Trump Picks a Controversial Secretary of State

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Wow! In a departure from the norm, Donald Trump has reportedly picked Exxon executive Rex Tillerson as his Secretary of State which indicates he is going to deal with Russia more from an economic standpoint according to some reports. Trump wants to ease relations with Russia and many are afraid he is naive on the dangers Putin poses.

President-elect Donald Trump has selected Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his nominee for secretary of State, NBC News reported Saturday.

He might be paired with former Ambassador Bolton as his deputy.

Tillerson has what some say are close ties with Putin, who has long represented Exxon’s interests in Russia.

“He has had more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American with the exception of Henry Kissinger,” John Hamre, a deputy defense secretary during the Clinton administration and president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank where Tillerson is a board member, told the Wall St. Journal.

In 2011 Exxon beat out BP and other competitors in a historic deal giving it access to Arctic and other deposits in Russia, while allowing state-owned Rosneft its first-ever access to energy projects in the United States. The next year, “the Kremlin bestowed the country’s Order of Friendship decoration” on Tillerson, the Journal reported.

Bloomberg recounted that “shortly after the venture discovered a billion-barrel crude field in the Kara Sea, the U.S. and European Union imposed sanctions” after Russia’s invasion of Crimea. Lifting those sanctions would hit Exxon’s bottom line.

Tillerson owns  $151 million worth of Exxon shares. Ethics laws likely would force him to sell to avoid conflicts of interest. But like other wealthy cabinet picks, he would enjoy a huge windfall because of an obscure law that eliminates the tax bite when federal appointees are forced to divest holdings, the Dallas News reported.

Tillerson has a good deal of negotiating experience and face time with world leaders — though limited experience when it comes to the gamut of issues the nation’s chief diplomat deals with.

Senate Democrats see a Tillerson nomination as an opening to grill him over allegations that Exxon suppressed internal research about climate change and, in particular, the impact of fossil fuels on climate. Tillerson is said to be a climate change supporter but thinks engineering can resolve the problems with fossil fuels. He doesn’t buy into the extremism.

Tom Brokaw interviewed him this year on education and what he does when he goes into a foreign country like Russia. He discusses Common Core which he supports.

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