Hmmmm: Rex Tillerson is taking a little time off, says State Department

Nothing wrong with a hard-working diplomat recharging via some down time away from the office, but it’s impossible not to notice that this “time off” is happening while rumors are swirling that Tillerson may be on his way out at State.

Is that “a little time off” as in vacation or “a little time off” as in a trial separation? A cabinet official who spoke to Erick Erickson confirmed the reports that Tillerson is pissed off at how Trump has treated Jeff Sessions. Yesterday, before Trump escalated the Sessions-bashing on Twitter this morning, CNN cited sources claiming that T-Rex had intended to stay a full year at State but was rethinking that given his manifold frustrations with the White House, just the latest of which is the Sessions matter:

Tillerson has a growing list of differences with the White House, including a new debate over Iran policy and personnel. His frustration is hardly a secret and it has spilled out publicly at times. But friends sense a change of late…

Both of these sources are familiar with Tillerson conversations with friends outside Washington. Both said there was a noticeable increase in the secretary’s frustration and his doubts that the tug-of-war with the White House would subside anytime soon. They also acknowledged it could have been venting after a tough week, a suggestion several DC-based sources made when asked if they saw evidence Tillerson was looking for an exit strategy.

News broke last week that Tillerson had to close the State Department’s war-crimes office. Since then it’s been revealed that he’s closing the Department’s office for the coordination of cyber issues as well. The Free Beacon describes the relationship between the White House and State at the moment as one of “open war”:

The State Department is said to be in a state of “massive dysfunction,” with top officials working under Tillerson ignoring White House directives on critical staffing issues and key policy matters, according to multiple sources, including administration allies who are said to be increasingly frustrated with what is perceived as the White House’s inability to control its own federal agencies.

The tensions have fueled an outstanding power battle between the West Wing and State Department that has handicapped the administration and resulted in scores of open positions failing to be filled with Trump confidantes. This has allowed former Obama administration appointees still at the State Department to continue running the show and formulating policy, where they have increasingly clashed with the White House’s own agenda…

“Foggy Bottom is still run by the same people who designed and implemented Obama’s Middle East agenda,” the source said. “Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created.”

That’s a hell of a time for the man in charge to take a vacation but a quite logical time for him to undertake a trial separation. It could be that he’s weighing whether to resign, knowing that that would drive an already chaotic administration even deeper into chaos with Priebus, Sessions, and McMaster all potentially out the door as well sooner rather than later. Or maybe … Tillerson’s already resigned and the White House asked him to keep it quiet for a few days as they plot when and how to reveal it? If T-Rex really does (or has) quit, I think that all but assures that Trump won’t fire Sessions. Losing one major cabinet member six months in is embarrassing; losing two in a very short span would be a total clusterfark.