What You Need To Know About Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil CEO Who President-Elect Trump Nominated As Our Next Secretary of State
On Tuesday morning, President-elect Donald J. Trump announced that he has selected Rex Tillerson to be the next Secretary of State for the United States of America. Tillerson is the CEO of ExxonMobil, the eighth largest company in the world by revenue and has over 83,000 employees.
Trump’s transition team released a press release on Tillerson’s appointment.
“Mr. Tillerson knows how to manage a global organization and successfully navigate the complex architecture of world affairs and diverse foreign leaders. As Secretary of State, he 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. The American people will once again have a world-class leader working on their behalf, enhancing the prospects for peace and prosperity among nations.”
“Rex Tillerson’s career is the embodiment of the American dream. Through hard work, dedication and smart deal making, Rex rose through the ranks to become CEO of ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest and most respected companies,” said Trump. “His tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for Secretary of State. He will promote regional stability and focus on the core national security interests of the United States. 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. I can think of no one more prepared, and no one more dedicated, to serve as Secretary of State at this critical time in our history.”
On Sunday, Trump said of Tillerson, “He’s a world-class player.”
Tillerson has no government or diplomatic experience, but does have experience in dealing with foreign governments since ExxonMobil operates in more than 50 countries.
Despite the sparkling compliments by the expected 45th President of the United States, Tillerson’s appointment could not come at a worse time because of the ongoing reports that the Russian government allegedly interfered with the 2016 presidential election in favor of President-elect Trump.
Tillerson has close ties to Vladimir Putin and ExxonMobil signed an agreement with Russia in 2011 to drill in the offshore Arctic Kara Sea oil field. The deal worth up to $300 billion, hasn’t taken effect due to U.S. sanctions against Russia over their invasion of Crimea. In a 2014 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ExxonMobil said the sanctions cost the company a loss of at least $1 billion.
In 2013, Putin awarded Tillerson the Order of Friendship, “one of the highest honors a foreigner may be awarded from Russia.”
Trump defended Tillerson’s ties with Russia in a Fox News interview on Sunday. “To me a great advantage is that he knows many of the players in the world and he knows them well,” “Trump said. “He does massive deals in Russia not for himself, but for the company.”
Tillerson’s ties to the Kremlin will with no doubt be scrutinized by the Senate, who must give their confirmation with a simple majority vote in order for him to be sworn in. Even Republicans have questioned Tillerson’s ties with Russia including Arizona Senator John McCain and Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
ExxonMobil is the largest publicly-traded oil and gas company by market value and is ranked sixth on Fortune Magazine’s Global 500 list. Tillerson earned $24.3 million in 2016 and if he becomes Secretary of State, his pay will be $203,700, which is less than 1% of his current salary.
The 64-year-old Tillerson is a native Texan who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He began his career at Exxon Company, U.S.A. in 1975 as a production engineer and by 2006 he became the CEO of ExxonMobil. He was set to retire from ExxonMobil in March 2017.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Tillerson supported Jeb Bush during the GOP presidential primary and did not donate to Trump’s campaign.
Tillerson’s past public statements suggest that he is in favor of free trade and leery of government regulations and sanctions.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recommended Tillerson for the Secretary of State position according to sources cited by Politico.
Quick Facts About Rex Tillerson:
- He is married with four children
- He is number 29 on the New York Times list of the 200 highest-paid CEOs in 2016
- He is a member of the American Petroleum Institute, the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the National Petroleum Council
- He is a member of the Business Roundtable and the Business Council, and a trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an honorary trustee of the Business Council for International Understanding, and a member of the Emergency Committee for American Trade
- He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2013
- He was the national president of the Boy Scouts of America and is a Distinguished Eagle Scout
- He was the former United Negro College Fund director
- He is the vice-chairman of the Ford’s Theatre Society
- He was recognized as a distinguished alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin in 2006 and in 2013
- He is a longtime Republican supporter
The Secretary of State is the President’s chief foreign affairs adviser. The position was created in 1789 by the Congress as the successor to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Here are the duties, activities, and responsibilities of the Secretary of State outlined by the U.S. Department of State:
- Serves as the President’s principal adviser on U.S. foreign policy;
- Conducts negotiations relating to U.S. foreign affairs;
- Grants and issues passports to American citizens and exequaturs to foreign consuls in the United States;
- Advises the President on the appointment of U.S. ambassadors, ministers, consuls, and other diplomatic representatives;
- Advises the President regarding the acceptance, recall, and dismissal of the representatives of foreign governments;
- Personally participates in or directs U.S. representatives to international conferences, organizations, and agencies;
- Negotiates, interprets, and terminates treaties and agreements;
- Ensures the protection of the U.S. Government to American citizens, property, and interests in foreign countries;
- Supervises the administration of U.S. immigration laws abroad;
- Provides information to American citizens regarding the political, economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian conditions in foreign countries;
- Informs the Congress and American citizens on the conduct of U.S. foreign relations;
- Promotes beneficial economic intercourse between the United States and other countries;
- Administers the Department of State;
- Supervises the Foreign Service of the United States.
The four most important Cabinet members are Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, and the Secretary of State is the highest-ranking member of them all. The Secretary of State is the third-highest official of the executive branch after the President and Vice President and is fourth in line to succeed the Presidency, coming after the Vice President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the President pro tempore of the Senate.