Officials describe Peterlin — a 46-year-old Navy veteran, lawyer and former Commerce Department and congressional aide — as a fierce gatekeeper who effectively shuts off Tillerson from advice and perspectives that could make him better at his job. She has also helped to impose sharp restrictions on the media’s access to Tillerson, who has interacted with reporters less than his predecessors, though that changed noticeably during the president’s recent overseas trip, when Tillerson took questions from reporters traveling with the president until they had exhausted their inquiries.
But Peterlin has also developed a reputation for being tireless in her new role. “She works incredibly hard,” said one administration official. “Even if you don’t like her, you have to say she’s always in the office, even on the weekends.”
Hook, 48, an Iowan who worked in Bush’s White House and State Department, serves as Tillerson’s policy brain. As director of the State Department’s Office of Policy Planning, he cranks out briefing memos for his boss that help to shape the president’s emerging foreign policy.