Secretary of State Rex Tillerson lost his cool with a White House official over delays in getting the appointment of his proposed nominees for State Department positions, Politico reported Wednesday. The episode left other officials stunned and prompted senior White House aide Jared Kushner to call the outburst unprofessional, the report added.
The incident reportedly took place in Chief of Staff Reince Priebus’ office June 23 in the presence of Priebus, Kushner, and Margaret Peterlin, the secretary of state’s chief of staff. Tillerson lashed out at DeStefano — the head of presidential personnel office — after the White House blocked the secretary of state’s choices for senior State Department jobs, Politico reported.
The outburst was so strong that Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, told Peterlin Tillerson’s lashing out at DeStefano was unprofessional and that they had to find a solution to it, sources told Politico. The 38-year-old has served as a senior adviser to former House Speaker John Boehner prior to joining the Trump administration.
“Colleagues are capable of frank exchanges,” State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond told Politico. “Evaluating nominees did get off to a slow start, but it is now moving along at a pretty good clip,” he added.
The secretary of state also questioned DeStefano’s judgment, the report added. He also said he did not want DeStefano’s office to “have any role in staffing” and “expressed frustration that anybody would know better” than him about who should be hired in his department. Tillerson also noted the president gave him the freedom to take decisions, a senior White House aide told Politico. Moreover, Tillerson complained people within the White House were leaking unfavorable information about him to the press and damaging his reputation, the source told the news outlet said.
However, White House spokesman Michael Short blamed the delays on Senate Democrats. “The meeting was productive and there was consensus on the topic of staffing, which is moving forward more quickly,” Short reportedly said.
According to Politico, sources said Tillerson also got into an argument during the ongoing discussions over ambassadorships.
“It’s very common that there would be some tensions and some tussles between the White House and departments or agencies about senior personnel decisions,” Matthew Waxman, a senior official…