Tillerson’s public reticence is also rekindling the simmering rumors of a “Rexit,” according to several current and former State Department officials. One U.S. government official told Foreign Policy that talk is circulating of Haley stepping in to replace Tillerson.
“There are very strong rumors — started last week — that he is out and she will take over,” the official said.
These may just be rumors, and there has been chatter about Tillerson’s departure for almost as long as he has been in office. However, Tillerson and Trump have clashed repeatedly in recent months, and Trump has undermined Tillerson publicly on several occasions, so it is not so hard to believe that he will be pushed out or leave of his own volition in the near future. As poorly as I think Tillerson has done at State, it seems hard to argue that Haley would be an improvement. For all his mistakes as Secretary of State, Tillerson has made some effort to do damage control for Trump’s outbursts. For her part, Haley has made a point of saying inflammatory and provocative things of her own. Especially when it comes to Iran and North Korea, Haley is much more hawkish and ideological than Tillerson. If she were promoted to run the State Department, she would encourage Trump’s worst instincts in both cases, and there is really no reason to think that she would manage the department any better than Tillerson has. While Tillerson has often been missing in action, Haley would be actively involved in making things worse in crisis situations, and that’s the last thing this administration or the U.S. needs.