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Trump’s Big Oil Spill in the Swamp

It’s official: President-elect Donald Trump has tapped ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, demonstrating once again that he has no intentions of actually draining the swamp. While Trump’s pick is a clear victory for the Kremlin, Republicans and Democrats are raising red flags about Tillerson’s cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin and his far-reaching conflicts of interest that could affect our foreign policy. Rex Tillerson has firmly opposed U.S. sanctions on Russia and has even received the “Order of Friendship” medal from Putin himself. By appointing the CEO of an oil giant as our nation’s top diplomat, Donald Trump will enter the oval office under unprecedented levels of controversy and suspicion about who he’s really fighting for.

Here’s what people are saying:

New York Times: Editorial Board: Flawed Choices for the State Department

Mr. Trump seems impervious to ethical standards. By naming Mr.Tillerson, he risks burdening his administration with another appointee likely to ensure endless controversy. Mr.Tillerson has no background in diplomacy beyond corporate deal making. And his relationship with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s authoritarian leader, raises serious questions about whether he could manage Russia policy in a way that advances America’s national interests. Mr. Putin even gave him an “Order of Friendship” award in 2013.

New York Times: Michael D. Shear and MaggieHaberman: Rex Tillerson, Exxon C.E.O., Chosen as Secretary of State

President-elect Donald J. Trump on Tuesday officially selected Rex W.Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, to be his secretary of state. In saying he will nominate Mr.Tillerson, the president-elect is dismissing bipartisan concerns that the globe-trotting leader of an energy giant has a too-cozy relationship with Vladimir V. Putin, the president of Russia…In the past several days, Republican and Democratic lawmakers had warned that Mr. Tillerson would face intense scrutiny over his two-decade relationship with Russia, which awarded him its Order of Friendship in 2013, and with Mr. Putin. The hearings will also put a focus on Exxon Mobil’s business dealings with Moscow. The company has billions of dollars in oil contracts that can go forward only if the United States lifts sanctions against Russia, and Mr.Tillerson’s stake in Russia’s energy industry could create a very blurry line between his interests as an oilman and his role as America’s leading diplomat.

Wall Street Journal: Justin Scheck, JamesMarson, and Russell Gold: Deals With Putin Helped Fuel Rise of Rex Tillerson at Exxon

Rex Tillerson was propelled to the top of Exxon Mobil Corp. partly by negotiating a deal with Vladimir Putin tokickstart an oil project in Russia’s Far East, one of a series of agreements between the pair stretching back to 1999. That relationship is both Mr.Tillerson’s biggest claim to the nomination as Donald Trump’s secretary of state, and potentially the biggest concern about him in Congress—where members of both parties are pushing for an investigation into Russia’s alleged hacking and its impact on the U.S. election.

Washington Post: Editorial Board: Rex Tillerson is an able executive. But what about his ties to Russia?

Mr. Tillerson is evidently an able and seasoned executive who has managed one of the world’s largest companies and, in doing so, has gotten to know issues and leaders around the world. But one of those leaders is Mr. Putin, with whom Mr.Tillerson has cut enough deals over the course of two decades to be awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship. He has been a staunch opponent of sanctions against Russia, which his company once estimated had cost it $1 billion…But those sanctions were adopted for a vital geopolitical cause: to punish Russia for its invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine, and to force a political settlement. In the face of Mr. Putin’s refusal to implement the peace plan he agreed to, the lifting of sanctions now would invite more Russian aggression, perhaps directed at NATO members.

Associated Press: Julie Pace and Catherine Lucey: Trump picks Exxon Mobil’s Tillerson to lead State Department

Tillerson’s business relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin are certain to draw scrutiny and could fuel a Senate confirmation fight. Leading Republicans have already expressed anxieties as they contend with intelligence assessments saying Russia interfered with the U.S. presidential election to help Trump…As forTillerson, Trump says he sees the business leader’s ties with Moscow as a selling point, along with his “vast experience at dealing successfully with all types of foreign governments.”

Politico: Matthew Nussbaum: Rubio: I have ‘serious concerns’ onTillerson nomination

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has “serious concerns” about the prospect of RexTillerson as secretary of state, he said in a statement released Tuesday morning in which he expressed doubt aboutTillerson’s “moral clarity.”…Rubio is one of a number of GOP senators alarmed by the prospect of the ExxonMobil CEO taking the reins at the State Department. Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham are expected to push back on the nomination. Tillerson’s relationship with the Russian regime of Vladimir Putin is one of the main drivers of concern, though his record on climate change is also likely to be a major point of contention among Democrats.

The Hill: Jordain Carney: GOP senators raise questions over Trump’s State pick

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the State Department is sparking early division among Senate Republicans. Trump’s transition team announced early Tuesday that he would nominate Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be the country’s chief diplomat, calling his career an “embodiment of the American dream.” But Tillerson’s ties to Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin are drawing deep skepticism from GOP senators he’ll need to support his confirmation.

Vox: Zeeshan Aleem: Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state is a Putin-friendly Exxon CEO

Donald Trump nominated Exxon Mobil CEO RexTillerson as his secretary of state Tuesday morning, adding a corporate executive with extensive ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin to his presidential Cabinet.Tillerson has relationships with many world leaders, but has never served in government or taken public positions on many of the thorny issues he would confront as the nation’s top diplomat…Tillerson would also face serious questions about potential conflicts of interest, given that much of his personal wealth is tied up in Exxon stock — and that the value of those shares could rise or fall depending on the foreign policy choices he would now be charged with helping to make and implement.

Wall Street Journal: Byron Tau and Damian Paletta: Sen. Marco Rubio Says He Has ‘Serious Concerns’ With RexTillerson Pick

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) said Tuesday that he had “serious concerns” about President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of RexTillerson to be secretary of state, setting up what could be a challenging Senate confirmation process. Mr. Rubio, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, which will vote on the nomination, said the Exxon Mobil Corp. chief executive “is a respected businessman,” but the senator noted he had broader questions about whether Mr.Tillerson was the right person for the job.

CNBC: Jacob Pramuk: Trump’s Tillerson pick sparks concerns from some key GOP senators

Some Senate Republican hawks on Russia have expressed concerns about Donald Trump’s secretary of State pick, setting up a potentially messy nomination process early in the president-elect’s term. Trump announced Tuesdaymorning that he plans to nominate Exxon Mobil CEO RexTillerson as his top diplomat. Trump’s transition team praisedTillerson, who has no government experience, as an accomplished business leader and international dealmaker, saying he “will be a forceful and clear-eyed advocate for America’s vital national interests.” Some notable GOP senators, however, have questioned the choice, citing Tillerson’s potential for conflicts of interest and ties to Russia. Their resistance sets up the potential for a more bruising confirmation process, even in a Senate that will include 52 Republicans.

Reuters: Steve Holland: Trump taps Exxon’s Tillerson as top U.S. diplomat, lawmakers uneasy

President-elect Donald Trump named the head of Exxon Mobil Corp, Rex Tillerson, as his choice for U.S. secretary of state on Tuesday and won backing from some Republican foreign policy figures for the oilman despite his ties to Russia… Republican foreign policy hawks in the Senate like John McCain and Lindsey Graham are likely to give Tillerson a rough time at a confirmation hearing in early January. “It’s very well known that he has a very close relationship with (Russian President) Vladimir Putin,” said McCain, the Republican party’s 2008 nominee for president.

Time: Kate Samuelson: Russia Is Happy With Donald Trump’s Choice of RexTillerson as Secretary of State

Many Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have a good relationship with Exxon Mobil Corp’s Rex Tillerson, the Kremlin told reporters on Tuesday…A 40-year employee of the energy giant,Tillerson is the first person in at least a century to be elevated to the post of Secretary of State without prior government experience. He appears to share Trump’s desire to dramatically reshape the U.S.’s relationship with Russia and is also an opponent of U.S. sanctions on the Russian regime after its annexation of Crimea and involvement in Eastern Ukraine.

Forbes: Jennifer Wang:  Trump Taps ExxonMobil CEO, Putin Ally Rex Tillerson To Be Secretary Of State

The choice is likely to rouse critics on Capitol Hill from both sides of the aisle.Tillerson, a lifelong ExxonMobil employee (he joined the firm after graduating from University of Texas – Austin), represents the kind of big oil, multinational corporate interest that Trump campaigned against on his “drain the swamp” platform. Moreover, the future top diplomat for the U.S. has deep ties to Russia, dating back to the Boris Yeltsin administration.

Huffington Post: ChristinaWilkie: Fired Trump Adviser Tells Moscow Audience How Great Exxon CEO Would Be For Russia

Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, said on Monday in Moscow that members of the incoming Trump administration have a “great enthusiasm” for strengthening U.S.-Russian relations, starting with Trump’s reported pick for secretary of State, Exxon Mobil CEO RexTillerson. “I’m really personally excited about Rex Tillerson,” Page said during his presentation at the Russian government-ownedRossiya Segodnya International Information Agency. “Being awarded the [Russian] Order of Friendship, his [oil drilling] ventures in the Kara Sea and Black Sea, I mean the list goes on and on.”

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