President-elect Donald Trump has officially nominated ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to lead the U.S. State Department.
"His tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for Secretary of State," Trump said in a statement. "He will promote regional stability and focus on the core national security interests of the United States.
"He will be a forceful and clear-eyed advocate for America's vital national interests, and help reverse years of misguided foreign policies and actions that have weakened America's security and standing in the world," Trump said.
A possibly contentious issue for getting the appointment through Senate could be Tillerson’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2013, Putin bestowed a Russian state honor, the Order of Friendship, on Tillerson, citing his work "strengthening cooperation in the energy sector."
Concerns have been raised about the potential conflict between Exxon’s oil and gas deals and American sanctions on Russia. Tillerson has been publicly skeptical about sanctions that have stalled some of Exxon Russian projects.
Center for American Progress President and CEO Neera Tanden says Tillerson will do what’s best for big oil and Vladimir Putin—not what’s best for the American people and America’s national interests.
“Nominating a man in the pocket of a foreign power is especially dangerous, as we learn more about Russia’s interference on Trump’s behalf in the U.S. election. Tillerson has no previous government experience at any level, having worked his entire career at ExxonMobil, and his massive conflicts of interest are matched only by those of Trump himself.
“Tillerson’s confirmation would seriously blur the lines between U.S. diplomatic priorities and those of the giant oil companies. He and other company executives led Exxon Mobil in funding outside groups to create an illusion of scientific uncertainty around the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change. This decades-long misinformation campaign directly narrowed the world’s window of opportunity to cut emissions and avert the catastrophic effects of climate change.”
API President and CEO Jack Gerard says: “Rex Tillerson is world class. He has decades of experience working with global leaders and overseeing the creation of thousands of jobs. He understands that American voters want to strengthen our national security, grow jobs, and protect American interests globally.
“As our nation’s next top diplomat, Rex has the strategic experience to effectively represent the new administration and the American people. He runs one of the largest companies in the world that operates in more than 50 countries, oversees over 75,000 employees, and he has first-hand experience working on international issues. His relationships and in particular those with other nations will help further advance U.S. interests across the globe.
“We congratulate Rex on being nominated and look forward to working with him, the incoming administration, and the new Congress on common sense policies that protect the environment, create jobs, and strengthen our economy.”