Trump Picks Rex Tillerson, but Path Will Be Tricky

Secretary of state hearings likely to focus on Russia, conflicts of interest
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2016 5:19 AM CST
Updated Dec 13, 2016 5:42 AM CST
Tillerson's Confirmation Could Be Tricky
In this Aug. 30, 2011, photo, Vladimir Putin and Rex Tillerson smile during a signing ceremony in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia.   (Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti via AP, Pool)

Donald Trump confirmed Tuesday morning that Rex Tillerson is his pick to be secretary of state—but the ExxonMobil chief's path to confirmation is not expected to be an easy one. The Washington Post reports that some GOP senators may be unwilling to support Tillerson because of his ties to Russia—which could make nomination tricky, since he'll need at least 50 votes in the Senate, and the Republicans have a total of 52. CNBC reports that John McCain and Marco Rubio have both expressed major doubts about Tillerson, with Rubio tweeting that "being a 'friend of Vladimir' is not an attribute I am hoping for." Tillerson does, however, have the endorsement of former Secretaries of State James Baker and Condoleezza Rice. A roundup of coverage:

  • A brief statement from Trump's transition office praised Tillerson as being among "the most accomplished business leaders and international dealmakers in the world," adding that he would be a "forceful and clear-eyed advocate for America’s vital national interests." See the Los Angeles Times.
  • Tillerson will face more roadblocks than Russia on his way to the nomination, Politico reports in a look at the five biggest obstacles, including oil deals in Canada and Iraq.

  • The AP notes that Tillerson's ExxonMobil position has given him experience in dozens of countries, but as a businessman, not a diplomat. He had almost $150 million in unvested stock options at the end of 2015, and analysts say that if he becomes secretary of state, he will have to either get rid of his Exxon holdings or recuse himself from a large part of his duties.
  • The Guardian looks at the looming nomination battle in Congress and notes that it will revolve around two issues likely to overshadow the start of Trump's presidency: Russia, and conflicts of interest.
  • The Wall Street Journal examines the international reactions to the apparent choice of Tillerson. It was praised by the Kremlin and by analysts in China and Japan, while Baltic countries including Latvia were worried by his closeness to Moscow.
  • Reuters reports that Trump called Mitt Romney to tell him he had offered the job to somebody else. "It was an honor to have been considered for secretary of state of our great country," Romney said in a Facebook post Monday night, adding that his discussions with Trump had been "enjoyable and enlightening."
(More Rex Tillerson stories.)

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