Tillerson may face harsh confirmation hearings due to connections to Russia.
President-elect Donald Trump has selected Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state. Trump said:
“His tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for Secretary of State,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “He will promote regional stability and focus on the core national security interests of the United States. Rex knows how to manage a global enterprise, which is crucial to running a successful State Department, and his relationships with leaders all over the world are second to none.
On Sunday, Trump told Chris Wallace:
Trump spoke highly of Tillerson on “Fox News Sunday,” saying that he was “much more than a business executive.”
“He’s in charge of an oil company that’s pretty much double the size of his next nearest competitor. “It’s been a company that’s been unbelievably managed-and to me a great advantage is he knows many of the players-and he knows them well, he does massive deals in Russia, he does massive deals-for the company, not for himself for the company.”
Trump wanted to fill the position “with an international businessman” and prefers his Cabinet filled “with generals, the business elite and the extremely successful.” He told those close to him he “likes how Tillerson projects success and gravitas from running a massive global corporation, according to a person not authorized to speak publicly about private discussions.”
But Tillerson may face harsh confirmation hearings due to his ties to Russia. Exxon has enjoyed many contracts with Rosneft, Russia’s top gas company, but “has lost more than $1 billion due to the sanctions the United States imposed on Russia.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted:
Being a “friend of Vladimir” is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #SecretaryOfState – MR
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) December 11, 2016
In a statement on Tuesday morning, Rubio promised a fair hearing for Tillerson:
“While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination,” Rubio said in a statement. “The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, is free of potential conflicts of interest, has a clear sense of America’s interests, and will be a forceful advocate for America’s foreign policy goals to the president, within the administration, and on the world stage.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called Putin a “thug” and said Tillerson’s friendship with the Russian president is “a matter of concern,” but admitted he does not know the extent of the relationship. Russia did give Tillerson the Order of friendship, “which is given to foreign citizens for ‘special merits in strengthening peace, friendship, cooperation and mutual understanding between peoples'” and to those who have made a “‘great contribution’ to ‘large-scale economic projects’ in Russia.”
However, Tillerson has received support from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and former Vice President Dick Cheney. The transition team said Gates actually suggested Tillerson to Trump for the position:
“[Tillerson] would bring to the position vast knowledge, experience and success in dealing with dozens of governments and leaders in every corner of the world,” said a statement from Gates, which did not cite any specific countries.
Tillerson was born in Wichita Falls, TX, and attended the University of Texas where he studied civil engineering. He started at Exxon in 1975 as an engineer and worked up the ladder to become CEO. He makes around $40 million a year and owns over $100 million in stocks.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.