US President-elect Donald Trump is likely to pick Exxon Mobil Corp CEO Rex Tillerson as his Secretary of State, according to media reports which said his nomination could face intense scrutiny in the Senate due to the oil executive’s close ties with Russia.
If nominated, the 64-year-old would be quite an unusual selection of Secretary of State.
Tillerson, is currently on top of the list of Trump’s Secretary of State because of his contacts with the world leaders, in particular Russian President Vladimir Putin, media reports said.
Transition officials, however cautioned that Trump has not made a final decision yet. However in an interview to Fox News to be aired today Trump praised the Exxon Mobil CEO.
“He’s more than a business executive; he’s a world-class player. He’s in charge of I guess the largest company in the world,” Trump told Fox News according to the excerpts released yesterday.
“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,” he added.
The Washington Post warned that Tillerson’s nomination could face intense scrutiny in the Senate, considering his years of work in Russia and the Middle East on behalf of the multinational petroleum company.
Already, two leading Republican hawks, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have voiced concerns about Tillerson’s serving as the nation’s top diplomat because of his ties to Putin, the daily said.
NBC News which first reported about it said that Tillerson would be joined by the former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, as the Deputy Secretary of State, who would be responsible for the day to day management of the State Department.
Tillerson met Trump at Trump Tower in New York City yesterday. He emerged as Trump’s leading candidate for Secretary of State over 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and three other people.
In a statement, the Democratic National Committee communications director Adam Hodge said Trump’s “outrageous pick” of Tillerson to be Secretary of State demonstrates once again that he lied to the country about draining the swamp, and he’s turning the government over to the same Wall Street bankers, Washington insiders and special interests he railed against during the campaign.
“It’s also another victory for Vladimir Putin, who interfered in our election to help elect Trump and now has a close ally with no foreign policy experience serving as America’s top diplomat,” he said..