NEW YORK, Dec 13 (APP): US President-elect Donald Trump officially announced his plan Tuesday to nominate ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, a pick that could pose complications in the Congressional confirmation process due to Tillerson’s ties to Russia.
“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 said in a statement.
“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.”
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Tillerson, who has spent his entire
professional career at the oil company, would be the first secretary of state without any government or military experience in American history.
Trump met twice with Tillerson in person ahead of his selection, after
weeks of meetings with other contenders such as Mitt Romney, a former presidential candidate, General David Petraeus, a fomer commander of US forces in Afghanistan, and Republican Senator Bob Corker.
The ExxonMobil executive emerged as a late contender for the job as the nation’s top diplomat.
Tillerson, 64, worked so closely with Putin that after a 2011 oil deal,
Tillerson was awarded the Russian Order of Friendship, a recognition from the Russian government that has gone to a variety of global figures, including sports stars. “He’s much more than a business executive, I mean he’s a world-class player.”
The president-elect’s announcement downplayed Tillerson’s lack of
government work and called him “a forceful and clear-eyed advocate for America’s vital national interests.”
“Rex Tillerson’s career is the embodiment of the American dream. Through hard work, dedication and smart deal making, Rex rose through the ranks to become CEO of ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest and most respected companies,” Trump said in a statement issued Tuesday morning. “His tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for Secretary of State. He will promote regional stability and focus on the core national security interests of the United States.”
He added: “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.”
The pick was widely anticipated. Trump announced on Monday via his
preferred communication medium ‘Twitter’ that he would finally share his nomination for the top U.S. diplomat slot Tuesday morning.
After the announcement, Trump tweeted, “The thing I like best about Rex Tillerson is that he has vast experience at dealing successfully with all types of foreign governments.”
Tillerson, a Texas native, started working at ExxonMobil in 1975 as a
production engineer. In an interview Sunday with Fox News, Trump said a businessman such as Tillerson would be a fine fit for secretary of state.
“Well, in his case, he’s much more than a business executive, I mean
he’s a world-class player,” Trump said, acknowledging Tillerson’s business dealings with Russia.
“To me, a great advantage is he knows many of the players, and he knows them well,” Trump added. “He does massive deals in Russia. He does massive deals for the company, not for himself, for the company.”
Former Secretary of Defence Robert Gates endorsed Tillerson after the
“He would bring to the position vast knowledge, experience and success in dealing with dozens of governments and leaders in every corner of the world. He is a person of great integrity whose only goal in office would be to protect and advance the interests of the United States,” Gates said.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also praised the pick.
“I know Rex as a successful business man and a patriot. He will
represent the interests and the values of the United States with resolve and commitment. And he will lead the exceptional men and women of the State Department with respect and dedication,” she posted on her Facebook page.
Both Gates and Rice have done work for Exxon through their international consulting firm, Rice Hadley Gates, according to Politico.
Others have raised concerns. SenatorJohn McCain, a senior Republican
leader, told CBS News that Tillerson’s ties to Russia needed to be thoroughly examined.
“Certainly it should be a matter of concern,” McCain said. “But I am
sure, in a bipartisan way, he will get a fair hearing.”
Meanwhile, Senator Marco Rubio, also a Republican, expressed “serious
concerns” in a statement Tuesday.
“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. I look forward to learning more about his record and his views,” he said.