Tillerson: State Department spending levels 'unsustainable'

Trump administration ramps up efforts to block media

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says his department's current spending was not sustainable, and he willingly accepts the "challenge" Trump is proposing in cutting more than a quarter of his agency's budget. On his first two trips as secretary of state, Tillerson traveled with a small number of "pool" reporters who provided information about his events to a broader group.

Now Tillerson has angered USA and foreign correspondents accredited to cover the State Department by traveling to Asia on Tuesday with just one journalist - from a conservative publication called the Independent Journal Review.

Cuts to the State Department budget will reportedly not be as large as originally reported.

Relations between USA presidents and their chief diplomats have varied widely in history, but those between Trump and Tillerson are especially important because of potential conflicts between the unsettled state of the world and Trump's "America First" agenda, two of the officials said.

"It was chose to take a journalist from an outlet that doesn't normally travel with the Secretary of State, as part of an effort to include a broader representation of USA media", Toner said.

The decision stirred complaints because it broke with decades of tradition and may impede news coverage of Tillerson's foreign policy moves. Because she is not a member of the press pool, she likely will not be sharing information with the rest of the press corps.

McPike is a White House correspondent for IJR, and previously reported for CNN, Real Clear Politics, NBC News, and National Journal, according to a statement on IJR's website when she joined the site in February.

Acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a phone briefing with reporters on Tuesday that the agency was considering "having a seat available" on his plane.

"Is this really the message they want to send to the public, as well as other nations?"

"I covered State for more than nine years".

"A new perspective", Toner replied.

The former Exxon Mobil Corp CEO faces multiple challenges in his unfamiliar role as chief U.S. diplomat, including a boss in U.S. President Donald Trump who makes unpredictable policy pronouncements and does not take kindly to criticism or contradiction, said four current officials.

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