BRUSSELS – The Latest on U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's trip to Europe (all times local):
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the State Department is "not missing a beat" despite the criticism he's receiving and high rates of vacancies throughout the department.
Tillerson is giving his most extensive public comments since news reports last week that the White House was considering a plan to fire him. Tillerson says he gets criticism for the fact that key ambassadorships are vacant. He's speaking in Brussels, where there is no U.S. ambassador to either Belgium or the European Union.
Tillerson says the department doesn't have any "wins yet" but that some "quick wins" are coming in the next few weeks. He's not specifying what they are, but he says the State Department is making progress on his planned overhaul.
Tillerson says the first two phases of the "reorganization" are complete and now starts the third phase, focused on execution. He says he'll discuss it more during town hall meetings before year's end.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is touring Europe this week amid questions about whether he truly speaks for President Donald Trump.
After months of rumors that Tillerson would either quit or be fired, the White House signaled last week it would most likely be the latter — and possibly soon. White House officials told multiple news organizations a plan was afoot to oust Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Tillerson says the reports are "laughable" and Trump tweeted it was "fake news." Yet such damage to his standing is not so easily erased.
In Belgium, Austria and France this week, Tillerson will contend with European officials now questioning how much credence to give his policies, and if he'll even be in place long enough to see them through.