By Bonnie K. Goodman
President-elect Donald Trump has made his decision about his Secretary of State nominee. According to an NBC News report on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 10, 2016, Trump decided on Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson for the post. Tillerson just this past week emerged as a top contender after Trump expanded his search after his transition team expressed concerns about his candidates for the job. Former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton will be named deputy Secretary of State. The nominations will be formally announced be this upcoming week.
Trump only met with Tillerson on Tuesday, Dec. 6. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates recommended the Exxon CEO for the post. Tillerson has extensive experience in international relations according to Politico. A source in the transition revealed, “Tillerson ‘fits the prototype’ and that Trump ‘likes his style and background.'”
Initially, Trump was considering New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney and former U.N. ambassador John Bolton for the post. His widened search added Adm. James Stavridis, Foreign Relations Committee chair Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and, former Ford CEO Alan Mulally to the shortlist.
Tillerson comes with baggage that might complicate his confirmation hearings. The former Exxon CEO has deep ties to Russia through his work with the oil giant. The Wall Street Journal reported that Tillerson negotiated a deal in 2011 with Russia to access their Arctic resources that was worth $500 billion but US sanctions on Russia after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 put the project on hold, which Tillerson said, caused “broad collateral damage.” In 2012, Russia awarded the Exxon CEO the Russian Order of Friendship.