Tom Cotton, Army Ranger veteran and current Republican senator from Arkansas, is believed to be in line to take over as CIA director. The move would be the result of a White House shakeup replacing Rex Tillerson at the State Department with current CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
The New York Times reported on Thursday, citing senior administration officials, that a State Department replacement for Tillerson was forthcoming. Tillerson had fallen out of favor with the White House for numerous reasons; beyond disagreements on the Iranian deal and the North Korean situation, Tillerson reportedly called Trump a “moron” behind closed doors.
Senator Cotton is widely respected in conservative circles. A New Yorker article once asked if he was “The future of Trumpism?”, pointing to the “influence” he exercised behind the scenes in the early days of the Trump administration. He has also acquired the nickname “the Trump whisperer.”
Not only is Cotton a decorated veteran of the Iraq War, he is also a Harvard law graduate. Cotton has been described as a “realist” when it comes to foreign policy, and “hawkish” on military affairs. His stance against a potential nuclear weapon armed Iran, in particular, has earned him the reputation as a “hard liner.”
Axios, the start-up website of former Politico insiders Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei, echoed the New York Times assessment that Cotton could take over at the CIA. As reported:
Cotton is one of the few senators with an easy relationship with Trump, talking to him a few times a week, giving him advice about top jobs (that Trump has taken), and planting the seed for the Iran policy announced Friday.
Senator Cotton recently grabbed headlines for supporting the Trump administration’s CFPB director appointment, stating that the employee at the “rogue agency” attempting to block Mulvaney from taking over should be “fired summarily.”
It appears from all the signals being divined for weeks that Senator Cotton is being groomed for an executive role in the Trump administration as head of the Central Intelligence Agency.
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