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Trump's Top Secretary Of State Pick Sparks Controversy

Amid reports that Russian hackers intervened in the U.S. election to help Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton, Trump's expected choice for secretary of state has stirred up controversy, in part because of his ties to Russia.

Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, is expected to be President-elect Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state, according to NBC News. Reports of the potential pick have created controversy around the Trump administration since the the oil executive, who has no prior government experience, has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted on Dec. 11, "Being a 'friend of Vladimir' is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #SecretaryOfState," CNN reports.

The secretary of state pick has not been officially announced, though Trump has some words of praise for the CEO.

"He is much more than a business executive," Trump told Fox News' Chris Wallace in an interview airing Dec. 11. "He is a world class player. He is in charge of, I guess, the largest company in the world. And to me, a great advantage is that he knows many of the players. And he knows them well."

Trump continued: "He does massive deals in Russia. He does massive deals -- for the company, not for himself, for the company."

The president-elect shared similar thoughts on his Twitter following reports that Tillerson was his choice for secretary of state.

Trump tweeted on Dec. 11: "Whether I choose him or not for "State"- Rex Tillerson, the Chairman & CEO of ExxonMobil, is a world class player and dealmaker. Stay tuned!" 

A source told CNN that President-elect Trump will be finalizing his choice this week.

Trump's spokesman, Jason Miller, wrote on his Twitter page on Dec. 10 that there will be "No announcements on Secretary of State until next week at the earliest," CNBC reports.

ExxonMobil signed a deal in 2011 with Russian oil company Rosneft, granting access to oil resources in the Arctic, according to CNN. Vladimir Putin attended the Exxon signing ceremony, as the Russian government is Rosneft's largest shareholder. Putin later award Tillerson with Russia's Order of Friendship.

Other rumored contenders for the secretary of state position include former UN Ambassador John Bolton, former CIA Director David Petraeus, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker.

There have also been reports that John Bolton could be Tillerson's number two at the State Department if Tillerson is chosen.

Sources: NBC NewsCNN / Photo Credit: William Munoz/Wikimedia Commons

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