President Elect Donald Trump has chosen ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, according to two sources close to the transition process. The official announcement is expected this morning.
The 64-year-old veteran oil executive has no official government or diplomatic experience, although he has run the largest international company in the world and knows many of the foreign leaders from his work with Exxon. The pick would put to rest weeks-long speculation of who would earn the post as the U.S.’s top diplomat, and would place Mr. Tillerson fourth in line to the presidency of the United States.
In a pre-taped interview that aired on Sunday on Fox News, Trump discussed why a businessman such as Tillerson would be a good fit as America’s chief diplomat.
“Well, in his case, he’s much more than a business executive, I mean he’s a world-class player,” Trump said, acknowledging Tillerson’s relationship with Russia through his business dealings.
“To me, a great advantage is he knows many of the players, and he knows them well,” Trump added. “He does massive deals in Russia. He does massive deals for the company — not for himself, for the company.”
Tillerson, of Wichita Falls, Texas, has already notified his corporate board about taking on the new role, sources told NBC News. He is set to retire from ExxonMobil next year since the company has a mandatory retirement age of 65, Reuters reported.
He has never previously worked in government, but reportedly holds conservative political views.
Tillerson has made thousands of dollars worth of political donations over the past two decades to various Republican groups and candidates, including to President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Tillerson backed Jeb Bush during the GOP presidential primary and did not donate to Trump’s campaign.
Mitt Romney and Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani were reportedly in the running, although Giuliani said Friday he had taken his name out of consideration.
Bolton, 68, had been floated as a possible secretary of state candidate as well. He was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from August 2005 to December 2006 under George W. Bush.
— Transition 2017 (@transition2017) December 13, 2016