The search for Trump’s new secretary of state pick may finally be over with a curveball that most people did not see coming. NBC reported yesterday that sources close to Trump are claiming that he has picked Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobile, as his choice for the position. Tillerson will have beat out former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and multiple other high-profile candidates for the position.
Although Tillerson has been in the public eye since he was elected to be chairman and CEO of Exxon in 2006, he has never held a public office. While he has made many political statements, most have been made from the perspective of Exxon. Similarly, any decisions he has made have been made as the CEO of the world’s largest publicly owned oil and gas company and may not reflect Tillerson’s actual political and world views.
Here are a few things we do know about the man that will likely be the next secretary of state for the most powerful nation on earth.
Opposition to sanctions
The United States, along with many of its allies and partnered organizations, often uses sanctions as a peaceful alternative to steer countries in the direction they deem necessary. Notable sanctions on Iran, Russia, and North Korea have all dominated the news cycle in the past few years.
Tillerson has spoken out against sanctions, claiming that “we don’t find them to be effective unless they are very well implemented comprehensively and that’s a very hard thing to do.”
Granted, Tillerson was speaking at an Exxon shareholders meeting and was approaching the issue from a different standpoint than he will be as secretary of state, but his statement seems clear that he doesn’t believe sanctions are the best approach to change unwanted behaviors of a foreign power.
Should Tillerson be chosen as secretary of state, democrats have vowed to grill him in his senate nomination about his time at Exxon and his views on climate change. He has made a few statements in the past that help us understand his ideology on the matter.
One of those statements came in 2009 when he called a carbon tax the “most efficient way of reflecting the cost of carbon.” He has also claimed to be a believer in climate change, and has said he believes that humans are partially at fault, but is unsure of how much.
As secretary of state, and the chief diplomat for the U.S., Tillerson would assist in striking up agreements with other countries in regard to climate change policies, goals, and initiatives.
One thing that may halt Tillerson’s senate confirmation is his clear ties with Russia, and specifically Vladimir Putin. As CEO of Exxon, Tillerson struck up a $500 billion deal with Rosneft, Russia’s primary oil giant. The deal eventually was canceled due to U.S. sanctions on Russia, but Tillerson clearly knows and has made deals with many of Russia’s top dogs, a fact that Trump has praised.
Multiple Republicans have already expressed concern with Tillerson’s Russian ties and with the slim majority that Republicans currently hold, this could spell trouble for his senate nomination.
Other political views
To get an idea of Tillerson’s political ideology now, it can be helpful to follow the money. Considering he has donated nearly $500,000 to various political efforts, there are plenty of places to look.
Tillerson has clearly been a Republican for all, or most of his life. Campaigns he has donated to include George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell, and Jeb Bush — all prominent Republicans. Interestingly enough, he was not a donor to the Trump campaign and stopped donating after Trump won the Republican primary.
The fact is that we will not know much of what Tillerson will do as secretary of state unless he is given the position. He is clearly a successful CEO of Exxon, but world diplomacy is a different game and representing a country is very different than representing a company.
What do you think of Trump’s probable pick for secretary of state?
[Featured Image by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images]