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Tillerson at National Space Council event. Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP

The New Yorker's great Dexter Filkins files a well-timed (and relatively sympathetic) profile, "Rex Tillerson at the Breaking Point ... Will Donald Trump let the Secretary of State do his job?"

  • "When I met Tillerson recently, in his seventh-floor office at the State Department, he was wearing a dark-blue suit and a bright-red tie, but he carried himself like a hard-charging Texas oilman."
  • "He was named for two Hollywood actors famous for playing cowboys: Rex Allen and John Wayne (his middle name is Wayne).'"
  • The 1 sentence to read: "Unlike his predecessors, he has not given a major foreign-policy address in which he has outlined a world view."
  • Why it matters: "A senior European diplomat ... told me that the overwhelming perception of American foreign policy among European governments was chaos."
  • "The uncertainty was compounded by the fact that there were few people in the White House or the State Department whom they could talk to."
  • What everyone's saying: "Tillerson has centralized decision-making so aggressively that he is unable to keep up. A senior Trump Administration official told me, 'Where things fall in the cracks is in the area of management and leadership of the organization, and in leveraging the immense amount of expertise in that building.'"
  • "Why isn't Tillerson making better use of his people? 'I can't explain it,' the official told me. 'I cannot frickin' explain it.'"
  • Better hurry.

Go deeper

12 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.