After weeks of speculation over who President-elect Donald Trump would nominate for his Secretary of State, a clear name is emerging: Rex Tillerson, president and CEO of ExxonMobil, the largest oil conglomerate on earth. He is the top choice, according to two Trump transition team aides.
The choice is already being endorsed by former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and James Baker, along with former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, reports CNN.
Rice shared her views on this possibility:
Rex Tillerson is an excellent choice for secretary of state.
He will bring to the post remarkable and broad international experience; a deep understanding of the global economy; and a belief in America's special role in the world. I know Rex as a successful business man and a patriot. He will represent the interests and the values of the United States with resolve and commitment. And he will lead the exceptional men and women of the State Department with respect and dedication.
Rice was on the board of directors of fellow petroleum industry giant Chevron from 1991 until her appointment as George W. Bush’s National Security Advisor in 2001. In addition, the company named an oil tanker after her -- but it garnered too much unwanted attention, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
"I strongly endorse the President-elect's selection of Rex Tillerson to be the next secretary of state. He would bring to the position vast knowledge, experience and success in dealing with dozens of governments and leaders in every corner of the world," Gates said. "He is a person of great integrity whose only goal in office would be to protect and advance the interests of the United States."
"Rex Tillerson, who is a friend of mine, is an excellent choice to head the State Department and has an opportunity to be a very effective secretary of state," said James Baker, Secretary of State under George H. W. Bush. Baker is now head partner of Baker Botts, a law firm that represents ExxonMobile in multiple cases. "As CEO of one of the world's largest and best-run companies, [Tillerson] has demonstrated the management and negotiating skills, and has the international experience, that are required in the job."
Critics of Tillerson note that his time at ExxonMobile has seen a strengthening of the oil giant’s ties to Russia. According to Politico, the company struck a deal with the Kremlin in 2011 to access Russian Arctic reserves.