President Donald Trump and newly approved Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are facing their first major disagreement after the president rejected former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams as Tillerson's number two man at the State Department.
"Tillerson fought the president and went back to try to salvage it," a source told The New York Post, claiming that Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon "did not want Abrams."
Trump overruled Tillerson on Abrams after meeting with the two men at the Oval Office on Tuesday. Sources said the Tuesday meeting mostly concerned a foreign policy talk between Trump and Tillerson, and some time after that, the president changed his mind on Abrams.
During Trump's 2016 campaign, Abrams who served in foreign policy positions for Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, often criticized Trump and questioned his fitness for office.
Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a regular contributor to The Weekly Standard, told Politico last March that he was in a quandry because he could not vote for either Trump or Hillary Clinton.
"1972 was the first time I was old enough to vote for president, and I did not vote," Abrams said "Couldn't vote for McGovern for foreign policy reasons, nor for Nixon because of Watergate. I may be in the same boat in 2016, unable to vote for Trump or Clinton."
Abrams also outlined his concerns in a May piece, "When You Can't Stand Your Candidate" for The Weekly Standard.
The Post's source said that some of Abrams' writings also became an issue, even though they had not posed a problem earlier in the selection process.
"The White House leaked the fact that Trump was meeting with Tillerson and Abrams Tuesday, and that Abrams was Tillerson's choice," another source told The Post. "After the meeting the White House let people know the meeting went well, and it was a done deal. Then, with no warning, the White House pulls the plug. Tillerson must be furious."
The argument appears to be the first major disagreement between Tillerson and Trump, who has also rejected personnel backed by Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
Neither the White House or the State Department commented to The Post.
However, sources who have spoken with Trump told The New York Times that Trump is becoming more focused on whether people supported or opposed him during the campaign.
In addition to Tillerson, Abrams was backed by Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, Arkansas GOP Sen. Tom Cotton, and members of the pro-Israel lobbying group Aipac.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, however, has been saying for days that he would not vote to confirm Abrams and in fact would join others in filibustering his nomination because of his role in the Iran-Contra affair, the Iraq War, and other serious foreign policy issues.
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