Rex Tillerson, the ex-CEO of Exxon Mobile, has been nominated to be the next Secretary of State. And after I initial skepticism from Republicans, his nomination appears to be all but a sure thing.
Tillerson’s close ties to Russia with Exxon Mobil’s business dealings in Russia have been a subject of scrutiny, even among some Republicans.
Tillerson received the Order of Friendship from the Russian Government and Exxon Mobil has lobbied against sanctions on Russia. Democrats also point out to his resistance in acknowledging climate change as a potential stumbling block. However, the issues revolving around Russia are of greater concern to more hawkish-GOP Senators.
In a hearing before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio pressured Tillerson to call Putin’s orders for action in Syria “war crimes.” Tillerson acknowledged the death of many in Syria at the hand of the Russians, but said that he would not use that term.
Rubio, Arizona Senator John McCain, and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham are all Republicans who were skeptical of Tillerson’s nomination, partly due to their continued advocacy of increasing Russian sanctions.
However, Tillerson proponents include many national security experts including former Secretary of States Condi Rice and Jim Baker, former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, and former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn. Such supporters say that Tillerson is a man of integrity and experience and that his dealings with Russia were strictly business-related. Even opponents of the nomination, admit that he has vast experience in the world in his time with Exxon Mobile.
Ultimately, Rubio, Graham, and McCain announced their support for Tillerson, though they say they continue to have reservations about his dealings with the Russians. Their skepticism will make it a definite possibility that Tillerson’s tenure could be a rocky one.