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Donald’s Pick for Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon-Mobil

2016-12-11

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An unusual choice for Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson, a man with no experience in government but an extensive corporate history.  More interesting than just his nominal position as CEO of Exxon-Mobil is the fact that he was assigned a supervisory role over Exxon’s holdings in Russia in 1998 as Vice President of Exxon Ventures and President of Exxon Neftigas Limited.  In 2001, he was promoted to Senior Vice President of Exxon Mobil Corporation; in 2006, he became CEO.  ABC News summarized the recent history of Exxon’s relationship with Russia:

In 2011, Exxon Mobil forged a deal with Russian oil company Rosneft, which, at that time, was 75% owned by the Russian government. The deal gave Exxon Mobil access to arctic oil deposits, and Putin attended the signing ceremony. In 2013, the two companies expandedtheir partnership. That same year, Tillerson received the Order of Friendship award from Vladimir Putin.

The relationship was impaired in 2014, when the US placed sanctions on Rosneft because Russia invaded and annexed Crimea.  Tillerson was quoted as saying that the sanctions were ineffective at Exxon’s 2014 shareholder’s meeting.  Tillerson’s relationship with Russia will raise questions at his confirmation hearings, according to Senator John McCain.

The odd relationship of Rex Tillerson to government service in the role of Secretary of State raises questions about the orange jackal’s intentions and understanding.  Why does he consider Rex Tillerson to be an appropriate choice for Secretary of State?  What role will Mr. Tillerson’s prior experience with Exxon and with Russia play in his work as Secretary of State?  What about the Secretary’s work with the rest of the world?

Equally important is the role of the confirmation hearings.  What does the orange one expect from the hearings?  Does he expect probing questions to be asked of Mr. Tillerson at the hearings?  Or does he expect the Senate to rubber-stamp his choices?

photo credit: LM Otero, AP

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