Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Cancels World AIDS Day Speech Amid Rumors Trump Wants Him Out

It's believed Tillerson was summoned to the White House.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was scheduled to deliver remarks at a World AID Day event on Thursday but his appearance was canceled.

It’s believed he backed out because he was being summoned to the White House by President Trump.

“He’s here,” Trump tweeted Thursday afternoon. “Rex is here.”

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

According to reports, the White House is preparing to force out Tillerson, and replace him with with CIA director Mike Pompeo, perhaps within the next several weeks.

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan delivered the keynote address in Tillerson’s stead at the George C. Marshall Center. In his remarks, Sullivan highlighted progress made under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

President Trump has been criticized for omitting LGBT people, people of color and other at-risk communities in his own World AIDS Day address yesterday.

The first documented cases of the human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) 36 years ago became the leading edge of an epidemic that swept across the UnitedStates and around the globe, devastating millions of individuals, families, and communities. As a Nation, we felt fear and uncertainty as we struggled to understand this new disease. In the decades since through public and private American leadership, innovation, investment, and compassion we have ushered in a new, hopeful era of prevention and treatment. Today, on World AIDS Day, we honor those who have lost their lives to AIDS, we celebrate the remarkable progress we have made in combatting this disease, and we reaffirm our ongoing commitment to end AIDS as a public health threat.

Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, more than 76million people around the world have become infected with HIV and 35million have died from AIDS. As of 2014, 1.1million people in the UnitedStates are living with HIV. On this day, we pray for all those living with HIV, and those who have lost loved ones to AIDS.

In 2016, then-President Obama was clearer in his messaging.

In the United States, more than 1.2 million people are living with HIV. Gay and bisexual men, transgender people, youth, black and Latino Americans, people living in the Southern United States, and people who inject drugs are at a disproportionate risk. People living with HIV can face stigma and discrimination, creating barriers to prevention and treatment services. Let us strive to support all people living with HIV/AIDS and rededicate ourselves to ending this epidemic once and for all

Trump’s address is actually an improvement over last year, when he referred to people with virus as “HIV carriers.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.