Will Trump Really Pick Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State?

He has close ties to Russia and has downplayed the effects of climate change.

Rex TillersonLM Otero/AP Photo

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly chosen Exxon Mobil president and CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, according to NBC News.

Tillerson, whose consideration for the role only became public in recent days, has long had a contentious relationship with climate change. His company, for which he has worked for his entire career, has been accused of covering up research and misleading the public about climate change since the 1970s, according to two groundbreaking investigations by InsideClimateNews and the Los Angeles Times. The investigation led several attorneys general to launch a fraud inquiry into the company. Tillerson recently acknowledged that climate change has “real” and “serious” risks but has previously downplayed its effects.

Tillerson also has close ties to Russia: In 2011, he struck a deal with Russia that would have given Exxon Mobil and OAO Rosneft, a Russian state-owned oil company, exclusive access to Arctic resources, according to the Wall Street Journal. In 2012, he was awarded an Order of Friendship decoration by the Russian government. The deal was later blocked by sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Crimea.

NBC’s report comes less than 24 hours after a bombshell report by the Washington Post indicated that the CIA has concluded Russia had intervened in the 2016 election and aided Trump’s win—a finding that Trump has ridiculed. If he were to follow through with this appointment, Tillerson’s close ties to Russia may put Trump at odds with GOP hawks. 

As secretary of state, the energy CEO could also face significant potential conflicts of interest. He owns more than $150 million worth of shares in Exxon, according to the Wall Street Journal. He would have to divest from these shares, providing him a huge tax break. His company has operations in more than 50 countries. 

Trump’s transition team confirmed to Reuters that Tillerson had met with Trump Saturday morning but said it would not make an official announcement until next week at the earliest.

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate