President-elect Donald Trump will nominate Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil, as his pick for secretary of state, the transition team announced Tuesday morning in a press release.
The announcement of Tillerson, a 64-year-old Texan, who is friends with Putin and has no formal foreign policy or diplomatic experience, follows the CIA recently revealing Russia hacked the main campaign teams in the 2016 U.S. election.
In a statement, Trump said Tillerson is one of the world’s most successful businessmen.
“Rex Tillerson’s career is the embodiment of the American dream,” the President-Elect wrote. “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 added.
He continued, “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.”
“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,” Trump affirmed.
For his part, Tillerson has said that as secretary of state he will focus on strengthening alliances, while pursuing “shared national interests and enhancing the strength, security and sovereignty of the United States.”
JUST IN:Trump announces his intention to nominate ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson to serve as secretary of state: https://t.co/0wpzAWjYtF
— ABC News (@ABC) December 13, 2016
Noting the current reports of Russia hacking the election, it’s instructive to look at the history of Tillerson’s past business dealings with Russia.
A supporter of free trade, Tillerson’s global business interests have enabled him to forge relationships with heads of state and political leaders. He has cultivated a professional and personal relationship with President Vladimir Putin, which dates back to the 1990s.
In 2011, ExxonMobil signed an agreement with Rosneft, an energy company majority-owned by the Russian government, to drill for oil in the Arctic. Other Exxon activities flourished in Russia.
In 2013, Tillerson received the “Order of Friendship” award from the Russian leader.
By 2014, Tillerson’s company has to necessarily pull out of its relationship with Rosneft after Russia annexed Crimea, which prompted U.S. sanctions. However, Tillerson reportedly opposed any sanctions on Russia.
Reports: Trump’s Secretary of State will be ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who is pals with Putin and has no formal foreign policy experience pic.twitter.com/Uax11eBZcf
— Fusion (@Fusion) December 13, 2016
Notably, Trump’s nomination of Tillerson requires Senate approval. It is at this stage that opposition to the Texan could be the most vocal, given Tillerson’s years of work in Russia and the Middle East on behalf of Exxon.
ABC News, the Associated Press, and numerous media outlets report that a number of Republican senators have publicly expressed concerns about Tillerson’s ties to Russia, which could undermine or even kill his confirmation in committee votes and on the Senate floor.
In the event that Tillerson is confirmed by the Senate, he would be the first secretary of state in U.S. history to hold office without any government or military experience.
Trump’s nomination of Tillerson ends weeks of meetings with other contenders such as Gen. David Petraeus, Mitt Romney, and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee. The Exxon head was a late contender but clearly he impressed Trump the most.
— CNN (@CNN) December 13, 2016
Meanwhile, Trump is having quite the Tuesday morning. Earlier today, “Kanye West” trended on Twitter as news outlets revealed the rapper strolled into the Trump Tower in New York City for a pre-planned meeting with the President-Elect.
During a photo-opp for press, CNN reports Trump said of West, “We’ve been friends for a long time.” He also referred to the Life of Pablo artist as “a good man.”
What did the pair talk about? “Life,” according to Trump.
West was recently treated at a mental health facility after a reported mental breakdown, supposedly caused by the anniversary of his late mother’s death and the robbery endured by his wife Kim Kardashian-West in Paris, France.
JUST IN: Kanye West walks into Trump Tower https://t.co/84ClHD4MX3
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 13, 2016
[Featured Image by Bloomberg/Getty Images]