US secretary of state Rex Tillerson has dismissed “laughable” reports that the White House is trying to get rid of him.

Senior officials have said Donald Trump is considering replacing Tillerson to begin a realignment of his national security team.

The officials said the plan would see Tillerson replaced by the director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, who in turn would be replaced by senator Tom Cotton.

Publicly, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not confirm or deny that Trump was considering replacing Tillerson, and the president himself would not answer directly when asked if he wanted Tillerson to stay.

Tillerson was asked about the reports during a photocall with the visiting Libyan prime minister.

He said twice: “It’s laughable,” but made no other comments to journalists before leaving the room.

The State Department has said Tillerson plans to carry on with the job. He is scheduled to leave on Monday on an official four-country trip to Europe.

Tillerson left Exxon Mobil as chief executive to join the Trump administration, and replacing the understated former oil man could significantly shift the tone and direction of Trump’s foreign policy.