come out, come out, wherever you are
The State Department is set to resume its daily press briefings Monday, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not expected to attend. Acting department spokesman Mark Toner told Politico that Tillerson is "not expected to show up" and that Toner will be holding the briefings himself for the time being.
Daily briefings have long been a fixture for U.S. secretaries of state since John Foster Dulles held the role in the 1950s, but Tillerson still has yet to do a televised Q&A. During at least this first week, Toner's briefings will be held Monday through Thursday, with two of those sessions taking place over the phone rather than in person. Historically, the State Department has held press briefings every business day.
"It's making me anxious," said one State Department official of Tillerson's lack of public presence in the face of a mercurial White House. Dan Feldman, who served as the State Department's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan under former President Obama, added that Tillerson "needs to communicate his vision, which has been sorely lacking both within the building and publicly."
Tillerson has reportedly been working behind the scenes in the meantime. The State Department's press division told Politico the secretary "has had 32 separate phone conversations with representatives of various countries, 15 in-person meetings with foreign interlocutors here in the United States, as well as calls and meetings with U.S. government personnel, showing a deep commitment to coordinating with the White House and other federal agencies and obtaining a diversity of perspectives on issues of public concern."