What's more significant here are the dominoes that would reportedly fall once Tillerson is out: Specifically, CIA Director Mike Pompeo taking over for Tillerson at the State Department, and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) replacing Pompeo at the CIA. In one fell swoop, Trump would be removing one of three people who Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said is helping “separate our country from chaos” and promoting two men who would move the Trump administration conspicuously in the direction of Trump allies and yes-men.
The Trump administration was initially stocked with both allies and more pragmatic picks who were less tied to Trump's brand of politics and perhaps less willing to indulge his controversial impulses. More recently, the selection of John Kelly as chief of staff was thought to be a move away from yes-men and toward people who might keep Trump, for lack of a better phrase, in line.
That clearly hasn't happened, and these picks seem to move the needle more toward Trump die-hards.
But in a lot of ways, this was bound to happen. As his presidency has progressed, Trump has clearly clashed with establishment-friendly officials who have inhabited his inner circles. He seemed to almost torture former chief of staff Reince Priebus and press secretary Sean Spicer before their departures after just six months. He reportedly frustrated Tillerson so much that the secretary of state called him a "moron" in front of other people. National security adviser H.R. McMaster has reportedly been exasperated. Trump fired James B. Comey as FBI director when Comey declined to declare his loyalty. Corker, who Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) once said talked to Trump more than any other senator, has clearly had it. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke has reportedly told Kelly she will resign over disagreements. And even as Kelly has stood by Trump — including during the flap over feuding with another Gold Star family — he has at times clearly had his patience with the commander in chief tested.
As Trump's presidency progresses — and as he makes it clearer and clearer that he's not going to change and may actually drift further from the GOP's comfort zone — it's going to become more difficult to pull talent from the ranks of people who might stand up to Trump. And a reportedly exasperated Trump is likely to be drawn more to yes-men and -women who promise (either implicitly or explicitly) not to put him through the things he has gone through with Tillerson.
It's almost an inevitable shift. It may be happening earlier than some expected.