Few Americans on Better Terms With Putin Than SecState Contender
Rex Tillerson under scrutiny for Moscow ties
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2016 4:53 PM CST
ExxonMobil CEO and chairman Rex W. Tillerson gives a speech at the annual Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016.   (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
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(Newser) – The surprise news that ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson is the leading candidate to be secretary of state has led to a slew of stories about how he might transition from the business world to the diplomatic one. The 64-year-old has been at the company 41 years. A sampling:

  • "He is much more than a business executive. He is a world class player. He is in charge of, I guess, the largest company in the world," Trump himself said on Fox News. "And to me, a great advantage is that he knows many of the players. And he knows them well." Watch the video here.
  • Tillerson has no public sector experience (which would be a modern first in the post), he's a lifelong Boy Scout, and he received a prestigious Russian honor from Vladimir Putin in 2013. The Washington Post digs into these facts and more here.

  • He "has spent hours with Putin negotiating billions of dollars in Russian oil projects, and is believed to be on friendlier terms with the Russian autocrat than all but a handful of Americans. He has also been critical of U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia since 2014." From Politico.
  • In fact, he rose through Exxon's ranks largely because of his work with Russia on various deals, observes CNNMoney, which takes a deeper look at them here.
  • Because of those ties, however, a blogger at Vanity Fair sees a "collision course" ahead in the confirmation process, should Tillerson be named.
  • Marco Rubio is among those who does not like the pick.
  • Under Tillerson, Exxon "acknowledged, for the first time, the science underlying climate change. It has said it supports the creation of a carbon tax, which most Republicans have opposed, and it also supported the Paris climate agreement," which Trump has vowed to abandon. See the New York Times.
  • Author Steve Coll wrote a book about Exxon in which Tillerson features prominently, and he finds the pick "astonishing," he writes at the New Yorker. "It is hard to imagine, after four decades at ExxonMobil and a decade leading the corporation, how Tillerson will suddenly develop respect and affection for the American diplomatic service he will now lead, or embrace a vision of America’s place in the world that promotes ideals for their own sake, emphatically privileging national interests over private ones." Read his piece in full here.

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