Trump picks Exxon CEO with Russian ties for secretary of state

Putin gave Rex Tillerson an 'Order of Friendship' award in 2013.

Dec 13, 2016, 12:07 pm

Tech

David Gilmour 

David Gilmour

Photo via William Munoz/Flickr (CC-BY)

President-elect Donald Trump confirmed his pick of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state on Tuesday morning.

Tillerson, who has no political or diplomatic experience, has spent the entirety of his career at the multinational oil and gas corporation, where his present role as CEO has allowed him to meet a number of world leaders.

Tillerson has worked across a range of the company’s international operations—including those in Russia, where he developed close ties to President Vladimir Putin, which has drawn criticism from both Republicans and Democrats. Putin awarded Tillerson an Order of Friendship in 2013.

The announcement of Tillerson’s new position in government follows a weekend in which a CIA investigation concluded that Russia had been behind the election hacks of DNC emails. Trump refused to accept the outcome of the CIA’s report on Sunday and his nomination of another cabinet member who is sympathetic to Moscow is unlikely to please longtime Republican congresspeople such as Sen. John McCain.

Trump’s pick is also seen as controversial since Tillerson comes from one of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies. Exxon has a long history of opposing climate change and environmental legislation. That said, it was under his guidance that Exxon moved to support the Paris Climate Agreement, in what the company called a move toward a more “constructive role.” 

“His tenacity, broad experience, and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for secretary of state,” Trump said of his selection, according to Business Insider. “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,” Trump continued. “I can think of no one more prepared, and no one more dedicated, to serve as secretary of state at this critical time in our history.”

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Last updated Feb 28, 2020, 7:03 pm