President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday tapped ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson, an oilman with deep ties to Russia, as his nominee to be secretary of state, promising that the CEO, who is personal friends with Vladimir Putin, has “second to none” relationships with world leaders.
Tillerson’s nomination comes days after the CIA accused Russia of interfering with the US election in a bid to help Trump win, in a development which could complicate the CEO’s confirmation hearings before the Senate.
A statement by Trump’s communication office said that Tillerson “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.”
As ExxonMobil’s president and chief executive, the 64-year-old Texan oversees the company’s business activities in more than 50 countries.
“Rex knows how to manage a global enterprise, which is crucial to running a successful State Department, and his relationships with leaders all over the world are second to none,” Trump said in the statement.
Tillerson has opposed sanctions on Russia and in 2013 was awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship by President Vladimir Putin following several years of Exxon projects in the country.