Rex Tillerson Has ‘Spirited Exchange’ With Reporters at White House

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 09: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives to deliver a statement regarding Qatar at the State Department, June 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. Tillerson called on Mideast countries to ease the blockade on Qatar. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed his frustration with the pace of staffing at the State Department, after a “spirited exchange” at the White House Friday over personnel issues and the slow approval of candidates he has selected to work for him.

During a photo op with Togolese Foreign Minister Dussey, Tillerson told reporters he’d like to see a change. “I’d like it to go faster,” he said.

According to a report by Politico, Tillerson excoriated the head of the presidential personnel office for rejecting nominees he has put forward for top State Department posts. White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner were reportedly present for the meeting, and Kushner, according to Politico, told Tillerson’s chief of staff that his outburst had been “completely unprofessional.”

State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond confirmed that Tillerson had a “spirited exchange” during a “regular meeting” at the White House to evaluate State Department candidates for appointments. He also said that the selection of nominees did indeed get off to a slow start – “late in the game” — after Tillerson took office, but he also said that the secretary began making selections in May that met the strategic needs of the department. Tillerson submitted those names to the White House in May.

The initial delay in processing nominees was, Hammond explained, a result of the fact that the the Trump administration took a few months to establish its foreign policy team, a process that had to be restarted on the day then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn left the White House.

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SOURCE: CBS News, Margaret Brennan

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