Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who Republican President-elect Donald Trump publicly floated as a possible future secretary of state in his administration, conceded Monday night he will not be serving in Trump's White House.
Instead, according to NBC News' Bradd Jaffy, Trump is expected to reveal he will nominate ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to head U.S. diplomatic efforts in his administration.
Romney's participation in the vetting process for secretary of state could have gone better. After the 2012 Republican presidential nominee issued a scathing indictment of Trump in a speech in March, calling Trump a "phony, a fraud" who was "playing the American public for suckers," his willingness to interview for a role in the administration struck some observers as a betrayal of his own values.
A photo of a seemingly uncomfortable Romney eating dinner with Trump went viral recently, with one widely shared tweet quipping "I don't think the date at the table next to me is going well."
In an interview Sunday with far-right conspiracy website InfoWars, Trump ally and political operative Roger Stone suggested Trump was merely toying with Romney all along.
"Donald Trump was interviewing Mitt Romney for secretary of state in order to torture him," Stone said. "To toy with him. And given the history, that's completely understandable. Mitt Romney crossed a line. He didn't just oppose Trump, which is his democratic right, he called him a phony and a fraud. And a con man. And that's not the kind of man you want as secretary of state."
Conversely, Tillerson's appointment may run into its own issues, as the oil executive's long and friendly history with Russian President Vladimir Putin has rung alarm bells among some of Trump's fellow Republicans in light of CIA accusations Russia meddled in the Nov. 8 presidential elections. GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Marco Rubio have all weighed in with varying degrees of shade on a Tillerson nomination.