The mood inside White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus' office was dark on Friday, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson unloaded on Johnny DeStefano, the head of the presidential personnel office, over a range of issues, four people familiar with the clash told Politico.
Tillerson lost it after months of having his proposed nominees for State Department posts passed over by DeStefano's office, a person with knowledge of the situation told Politico, and "expressed frustration that anybody would know better" than he would over who should be hired. He also accused the White House of leaking unflattering information on him to the media. Tillerson's outburst was witnessed by Priebus, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, and Tillerson's chief of staff, Margaret Peterlin. Later, Kushner approached Peterlin and said her boss had been unprofessional and they needed to patch things up.
Many of Tillerson's proposed nominees have been rejected by DeStefano's office because they have the audacity of being Democrats or Republicans who didn't support Trump during his campaign, Politico reports. That's not the only thing that has Tillerson in a tizzy, people close to him said; the 65-year-old former CEO of ExxonMobil isn't thrilled about being ordered around by political aides with barely any experience who are decades younger than him, and he's also not a fan of Trump's incessant tweeting. A spokesman for the State Department, R.C. Hammond, told Politico that "colleagues are capable of frank exchanges," and "evaluating nominees did get off to a slow start, but it is now moving along at a pretty good clip."