President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly found his Secretary of State: ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. The Trump transition team has not confirmed the appointment, but sources assert that Tillerson's nomination is all but certain.
On Dec. 11, Trump praised Tillerson's business credentials and his familiarity with global leaders, touting the oil and gas executive's credentials as a potential top ambassador for the U.S.
"He's in charge of an ail company that's pretty much double the size of his next nearest competitor," Trump told Fox News. "It's been a company that's been unbelievably managed — and to me a great advantage is he knows many the players — and he knows them well, he does massive deals in Russia, he does massive deals for the company, not for himself for the company."
On Dec. 12, Two sources familiar with the Trump transition team told Fox News that Tillerson's nomination was imminent, with an official announcement pending.
Tillerson started as an engineering employee of Exxon in 1975, gradually working his way up to the position of CEO in 2006. The 64-year-old executive cultivated deep ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin through business dealings with the country, ultimately being granted Russia's Order of Friendship in 2012, according to The New York Times.
Former State Department energy diplomat David L. Goldwyn believes that Tillerson's ability to work with Russia despite tensions between the U.S. and Putin could make him a valuable asset in diffusing tensions between the two countries, a policy that Trump has advocated.
"Tillerson will be a credible and effective messenger for a U.S. rest because he is not a member of the foreign policy establishment but also because his history embodies the investment potential Russia could enjoy with a better relationship with the United States," Goldwyn said.
If nominated for Secretary of State, Tillerson could face several hurdles before being confirmed by the Senate, with several high-profile GOP lawmakers citing concerns about the Exxon CEO's close relationship with Putin, whose government has been accused of intentionally disrupting the 2016 presidential election.
"Being a 'friend a Vladimir' is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #SecretaryOfState," tweeted out Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has expressed trepidation over Tillerson's purported nomination.
"It's a matter of concern to me that he has such a close personal relationship with Vladimir Putin," McCain told CBS News. "And obviously they've done enormous deals together and that would color his approach to Vladimir Putin and the Russian threat."
The GOP lawmaker, who has called for a congressional investigation into Russia's alleged tampering with the presidential election, added that the Senate "will give [Tillerson] his chance."