Plenty of business experience, little political experience: such qualifications seem to be what President-elect Donald Trump seeks as he fills the United States government’s highest offices. Now sources close to Trump say that the office of Secretary of State – fourth in line for the presidency – might go to ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. Not only does Tillerson have scant political experience, he’s likely to have a tremendous bias when it comes to energy policies. And then there is the delicate matter of his close connections to the Russian government.
Two sources “close to the transition process” indicated to NBC News it’s likely Trump will choose Tillerson. One source said the deputy secretary of state, who would handle most of the daily management, would be former United Nations ambassador John Bolton, who has held government positions under multiple Republican presidents. The sources said nothing yet is final, but it looks like Trump’s pick will be the oil and gas magnate.
Over the weekend, Trump addressed the speculation on Twitter (where else?), saying “Whether I choose him or not for ‘State’ – Rex Tillerson, the Chairman & CEO of ExxonMobil, is a world class player and dealmaker. Stay tuned!” In a pre-taped interview for Fox News, Trump had this to say about the potential nominee: “…he’s much more than a business executive, I mean he’s a world-class player. 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.” We’re skeptical about that.
Of course one of those players Trump admires is Russian president Vladimir Putin. In 2013, Tillerson received the Order of Friendship, one of the topmost honors Russia bestows on foreigners, from Putin. As ExxonMobil CEO, Tillerson forged a partnership with Russian oil company Rosneft, the majority of which is owned by the Russian government.
Tillerson’s political experience is largely limited to tossing tens of thousands of dollars at Republican candidates like former president George W. Bush and recent candidate Jeb Bush. Sources told NBC News Tillerson has already informed the corporate board about his potential new position.