It's Official: Trump Picks Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson To Lead The State Department

Tyler Durden's picture

Update: It's official, moments ago President-elect Trump confirmed he will nominate ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be his secretary of state: In a statement released by his transition team early Tuesday, Trump called Tillerson's career "the embodiment of the American dream."

Through hard work, dedication and smart deal making, Rex rose through the ranks to become CEO of ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest and most respected companies," the president-elect said, adding that Tillerson's "tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice."

"He will promote regional stability and focus on the core national security interests of the United States. Rex knows how to manage a global enterprise, which is crucial to running a successful State Department, and his relationships with leaders all over the world are second to none," Trump added.

And the obligatory tweet:

* * *

After days of speculation and strawmen, and following Mitt Romney's statement earlier, AP is reporting that President-elect Donald Trump has selected Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to lead the State Department, according to two people close to Trump's transition team.

The decision caps a lengthy process that often played out In public and exposed rifts within Trump's transition team. But Tillerson's close ties to Russia could still complicate his Senate confirmation hearings.


Trump was set to formally announce Tillerson's nomination Tuesday morning. The people close to Trump's transition insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the pick ahead of that announcement.

If approved, Tillerson would be the first secretary of state in modern history without previous government experience, The Washington Post reported.

As KCTV5 reports, he is being called a controversial pick, partly because of his ties with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Putin gave the CEO a Russian government award three years ago after Exxon-Mobil cut a major oil deal with a Russian company.

Russia has recently been accused of hacking in an effort to influence the result of the presidential election in Trump's favor. President Barack Obama ordered an investigation Friday into Russian influence on the election.


Trump dismissed concerns about Russia in an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, deeming the matter “ridiculous.”


The president-elect also used the interview to praise Tillerson for his business acumen and noted the CEO would be useful in matters regarding Russia because he “knows many of the players and he knows them well.”


He tweeted Sunday about reports that Tillerson would be getting the nomination, calling the CEO “a world class player and dealmaker.”

Trump tweeted this evening that his announcement will be tomorrow morning...

As we noted previously, the 64-year-old Texas oilman, whose friends describe as a staunch conservative, emerged as a Secretary of State contender only last week following a meeting with Trump, when it was speculated that he would consider the offer "due to his sense of patriotic duty and because he is set to retire from the company next year." Tillerson's appointment would introduce the potential for sticky conflicts of interest because of his financial stake in Exxon: he owns Exxon shares worth $151 million, according to recent securities filings.

A quick biographical sketch of Tillerson courtesy of the WSJ:

The son of a local Boy Scouts administrator, Tillerson was born in Wichita Falls, Texas. He attended the University of Texas, where he studied civil engineering, was a drummer in the Longhorn band and participated in a community service-oriented fraternity.

He joined Exxon in 1975 and has spent his entire career at the company.

For most of his adult life, he has also been closely involved with the Boy Scouts of America, even occasionally incorporating the Scout Law and Scout Oath into his speeches.  Mr. Tillerson played an instrumental role in leading the organization to change its policy to allow gay youth to participate in 2013, Mr. Hamre said. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates subsequently moved to lift the organization’s ban on gay adult leaders as Boy Scouts president in 2015.  “Most of the reason that organizations fail at change is pretty simple: People don’t understand why,” Mr. Tillerson said in a speech after the 2013 decision, urging leaders to communicate about the policy to help make it successful. “We’re going to serve kids and make the leaders of tomorrow.”

* * *

However it is not his Boy Scout exploits that will be the key talking point for pundits in the coming days, but rather his close relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

According to the WSJ, few U.S. citizens are closer to Mr. Putin than Mr. Tillerson,  a recipient of Russia's Order of Friendship, bestowed by the president...

... who has known Putin since he represented Exxon’s interests in Russia during the regime of Boris Yeltsin.

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

Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson with Vladimir Putin, then Russia’s prime minister, at
a signing ceremony in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in August 2011.

In 2011, Mr. Tillerson struck a deal giving Exxon access to prized Arctic resources in Russia as well as allowing Russia’s state oil company, OAO Rosneft, to invest in Exxon concessions all over the world. The following year, the Kremlin bestowed the country’s Order of Friendship decoration on Mr. Tillerson.

The deal would have been transformative for Exxon. Mr. Putin at the time called it one of the most important involving Russia and the U.S., forecasting that the partnership could eventually spend $500 billion. But it was subsequently blocked by sanctions on Russia that the U.S. and its allies imposed two years ago after the country’s invasion of Crimea and conflicts with Ukraine.

Tillerson spoke against the sanctions at the company’s annual meeting in 2014. “We always encourage the people who are making those decisions to consider the very broad collateral damage of who are they really harming with sanctions,” he said.

As such, many have speculated that under his regime, the State Department may quietly drop any existing sactions against Russia.

* * *

Then there is the thorny issue of potential conflicts of interest, and his massive holdings of Exxon stock.

One of the first issues Tillerson would have to resolve as secretary of state would be his holdings of Exxon shares, many of which aren’t scheduled to vest for almost a decade. The value of those shares could go up if the sanctions on Russia were lifted. 

The shares would likely have to be sold under State Department ethics rules, Chase Untermeyer, a former U.S. Ambassador to Qatar, said in an interview. “He could not erase his strong relationship with a particular country,” Mr. Untermeyer said. “The best protection from a conflict of interest is transparency.”

Tillerson will sell his $150+ million in XOM shares tax free, courtesy of the same tax break that was introduced in 1989 under the administration of President George H.W. Bush, which allowed Hank Paulson, Colin Powell and plenty of other public servants to dispose of their equity holdings without paying taxes: to get the tax relief, it must be deemed “reasonably necessary” for a public official to divest his shares, or a congressional committee must require the asset sale, according to section 1043 of the tax code, something which is virtually assured in the case of Tillerson.

* * *

Finally, the environmentalists will certainly be displeased with Trump's choice, even thought Tillerson helped shift Exxon’s response to climate change when he took over as CEO in 2006. He embraced a carbon tax as the best potential policy solution and has said climate change is a global problem that warrants action. That was a break from his predecessor, Lee Raymond.

Still, Mr. Tillerson is a polarizing figure among Democrats and environmental activists. They have accused Exxon of sowing doubt about the impacts of climate change during Mr. Raymond’s tenure and say Mr. Tillerson hasn’t done enough to disclose the future impact of climate-change regulations on the company’s ability to get oil out of the ground.

This is certainly a good way to make clear exactly who’ll be running the government in a Trump administration—just cut out the middleman and hand it directly to the fossil-fuel industry,” said Bill McKibben, the environmental activist and founder of


Exxon has disputed the criticism and accused activists and Democratic attorneys general of conspiring against the company.


The son of a local Boy Scouts administrator, Mr. Tillerson was born in Wichita Falls, Texas. He attended the University of Texas, where he studied civil engineering, was a drummer in the Longhorn band and participated in a community service-oriented fraternity.

As secretary of state, Tillerson would be fourth in line to the presidency.

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Yars Revenge's picture

"Tillerson would be the first secretary of state in modern history without previous government experience"


Some problem to have, right?

813kml's picture

They're jealous that he skipped the mandatory lobotomy.

King Tut's picture
King Tut (not verified) 813kml Dec 12, 2016 11:45 PM

He was very influential in the decision to allow gays to be admitted into the Boy Scouts. Rex is hoping Comet Pizza doesn't close before he gets to DC.

IridiumRebel's picture

Who would you pick smart guy?

Haus-Targaryen's picture

I'm happy about this, if for no other reason than the Green party in Germany will lose its mind. 

Paul Kersey's picture

History now officially repeats itself:

"Attorney Samuel Untermyer who headed the 1913 Pujo Money Trust Investigation Committee to investigate money trusts defined a money trust to George Baker during the Pujo hearings; "We define a money trust as an established identity and community of interest between a few leaders of finance, which has been created and is held together through stock-holding, interlocking directorates, and other forms of domination over banks, trust companies, railroads, public service and industrial corporations, and which has resulted in vast and growing concentration and control of money and credits in the hands of a few men"

Casey Stengel's picture

Well said Paul. I picked up this nugget from the ZH comment section a few years ago. Other People's Money And How The Bankers Use It, by Louis Brandeis. History does repeat itself. 

FreezeThese's picture
FreezeThese (not verified) Casey Stengel Dec 13, 2016 8:12 AM

Putin selected as ambassador to Russia?

Ghost of PartysOver's picture

Kellyanne Conway becoming a power player.   She chooses her battles well then kicks ass.  I like it.  Cya Mittens!

FreezeThese's picture
FreezeThese (not verified) Ghost of PartysOver Dec 13, 2016 8:44 AM

Any arrogant blonde capable of ignoring spinning bullshit was sure to woo the eyes of the 35+ 250lbs tea party gentlemen

HippieHaulers's picture

I find your comment to be chauvinist and sexist and mysogenist.

Uzda Farce's picture
Uzda Farce (not verified) Paul Kersey Dec 13, 2016 11:24 AM

"The Federal Reserve Act was legislated through Congress as the Glass-Owen bill, backed by two Democrats, Congressman Carter Glass of Virginia, and Sen. Robert Owen of Oklahoma. Owen was persuaded to back the bill by Samuel Untermyer, who had cultivated him while acting as counsel for the Pujo Money Trust investigation. Untermyer flattered Owen by entertaining him at Greystone, his palatial Hudson River estate. Untermyer claimed to be a "progressive Democrat", although he lived in feudal splendor, employing 167 men to tend his expanse of orchids and greenhouses. At Greystone, Owen dined with Paul Warburg, Bernard Baruch, and other financiers who had been instructed to get the Federal Reserve Act passed. Owen, a former Indian agent who knew little about finance, was easily persuaded by Paul Warburg's doctrinaire pronunciamentos about "our antiquated banking system", which must be brought up to par with the more modern banking system of Europe."

-- "The World Order", Eustace Mullins

nmewn's picture

Millions of special snowflake heads explode.

Its gonna be a good day ;-)

CuttingEdge's picture

As long as he doesn't arrange the sale of any US strategic uranium reserves to those pesky Russkies, everything will be just dandy.

Wait a minute...

Chris Dakota's picture
Chris Dakota (not verified) CuttingEdge Dec 13, 2016 8:24 AM

Communism is a satanic cult that seeks to enslave the world

it's that simple.

This article explains it ALL, like why gays who normally seek wealth and power are in on it.

Bella Dodd (1904-1969) a lawyer and Political Science professor, was a Communist Party organizer from 1932-1948 and a member of the National Council of the CPUSA from 1944-48.

In her book, "School of Darkness," she said Communists like her infiltrated and took control of liberal and socialist groups and unions. (She took control of the NY State Teachers Union.) She said Communism is a Satanic cult that is conspiring to enslave the world.

In testimony to HUAC in 1953, she revealed some Liberals "have allowed themselves to become supporters of the very members of this conspiracy. This is not liberalism, not liberalism in the finest sense of the word. This is just allowing the Communist to pull them into a propaganda environment which says that "anyone who is close to the Communist is a liberal. I do not believe that is the definition of "a liberal."

She offered the classical definition: "A liberal is a person who believes in the right of the individual to function. The Communist does not believe in the right of the individual. They believe only in the right of the collective. The individual is only part of a collective group, and whenever he doesn't move according to the collective, he is ousted from the group."

Mr. Kuzig: "So you would say that when so-called liberals today, self-denominated liberals, support and work with the Communist program, they are being deluded into thinking they are helping a liberal cause when it is not liberal."

Dodd: "One of the great tragedies today is that these Americans do not realize that this would take civilization back to a barbarism which existed long before the Christian era... The Communists have a way of changing names and labels....How shall we recognize them, then ? the fact that they believe that there is no God ; that a person is just born, grows, dies, decays, and that is the end. They believe that the individual doesn't matter; that the collective matters. They believe that certain people should have the power to run a country."

detached.amusement's picture

barbarism that existed before the christian era?  the fuck idiocy is this?  as if christianity somehow stopped barbarism, and never participated in it?

FatTony7915726's picture

Hillary had 30 fucking years to fix this shit but never did.  I like the way Trump is choosing his candidates.

gatorengineer's picture

King Tut,

You are right on with Tillerson, Gays and Boyscouts, Globalist free trader open boarders, and wants a carbon tax.  My book thats three strikes....

gammab0y's picture

You should watch this video of him speaking to the boy scouts.

Makes me proud to have him as Secretary of state, proud to be an American, and regretful I wasn't a boy scout.

Jethro's picture

I was discussing this issue with a friend several months ago.  I surmised that one couldn't reach the upper levels of DC politics without being completely compromised.

Mountainview's picture

What about the Bolton as backstop (watchdog) story? This would replace lobotomy.

Uzda Farce's picture
Uzda Farce (not verified) Mountainview Dec 13, 2016 1:08 PM

John Bolton is a member of the Rockefeller/CFR, along with James Woolsey, Joe Lieberman, John McCain, David Petraeus and Lynn Forester de Rothschild. Bolton is an "advisor" at both JINSA and UANI.

Bolton, Lieberman, Woolsey, Jeb Bush, also Mossad:

Bolton, Lieberman, Cantor:

McCain, Lieberman, Petraeus, Rothschild:

Woolsey, Lieberman, Hayden, Ledeen:

BennyBoy's picture


Rex has lots of gov experience.

He's subverted a few. Which makes much better than cankles.

lakecity55's picture

The best reason for the job, right there.

The point is, he has the experience of a SoS due to his Working Experience.

onwisconsinbadger's picture

Make sure his XOM stocks are going to be tax free, Hank Paulson style.

King Tut's picture

Please don't besmirch the ZHers' Messiah-  D Trump.

IridiumRebel's picture

I thought you guys were still fucking each other in the locker room.....
Clean up.

nmewn's picture

Who unlike the man-child currently in office, actually created jobs, employed people, did not have "friends" like Tony Rezko or Bill Ayers, who wasn't president when millions of refugees flooded into Europe and never promised anyone they would save $2,500 per year on their health insurance.

CNONC's picture

That's something to consider.  If I understand the law, he can sell his holdings without capital gains if forced to sell by accepting this position.  Am I right?

luna_man's picture



THAT'S RIGHT!...Show them CLOWNS who's President-elect!!

mister0_1's picture

Good businessmen make better "officials" than career politicians, that's for sure.

db51's picture

LMFAO!   Poor Mittens and his Magic Mormon Underwear sent packing.  Glen Beck will be crying and hitting the bottle... LOLOLOLOLOL.   Oh God...Hillary now has lost 3 times, and Mitten is headed back to Utah with his ball sack still firmly clutched in Trumps "tiny little hands"   LMFAO...   Oh God.... Christmas has come early....LMFAO

KEEP GRABBING EM BY THE PUSSY DONALD!   you ARE DA MAN!   Can't wait to see Melania's INaugural get up.....lmfao....Good bye you fucking ugly chimp ass First "Lady"    lmao.....Oh God.....this is fucking great   Happy Fucking New Year early.

Putin....if you're reading ZH....well I love you Pootie are Alpha Male #2....Fucking Obama....someone from NSA reading this...tell Obama to go shove a hot poker up his ass....little girly man POS!

IridiumRebel's picture

His cousin runs the RNC now.
Horse trading.

CNONC's picture

you'll be getting a visit soon from some men in cheap suits.

HRH Feant's picture
HRH Feant (not verified) Dec 12, 2016 11:16 PM

Of course the rabid red diaper crowd is going to throw a hissy fit. GOOD! I don't give a damn.

This guy is the real deal, a pro, a businessman, and has the respect of Putin. That is a 360-degree win!

FatTony7915726's picture

Obozo can mop the floors at night in goverment buildings

Jethro's picture

No, he isn't competent enough to operate a mop.

Wahooo's picture

He should be serving coffee in the white house.

flaminratzazz's picture

+1 for trump.. goldman appointees sucked, Prebis, Bannon and his generals all +

there is a small glimmer of hope way out on the horizon, flickering flickering..



db51's picture

Fucking Donald is going to put the smack down on can count on that he's raided some of their kin.    LMAO....Fuck you Goldman Sucks...prepare to be ass fucked dry

Uzda Farce's picture
Uzda Farce (not verified) db51 Dec 13, 2016 1:51 PM

Goldman Sachs holds the mortgage on some of Trump's prime NY real estate, including 1290 Ave of the Americas near Rockefeller Center.

Restorative_Ally's picture


Must be a different shift leader running the comments...

Yesterday they would have been (and were) massively against this asshat.

You know it's true. Nothing but doubt for days about Trumps picks, and now?

All of a sudden he can do no wrong? Is the entire readership drunk, or is this whole thing a psyop?

IridiumRebel's picture

Mention Goldman and angst will happen.
Mention non pol and elation occurs.


StreetObserver's picture

An oilman as secretary of state? Someone who has traveled all over the world and knows science, economics, geology, languages, how to run a business? That's outrageous!

What we need is someone who barely passed the bar, arranged teacups at the white house, worked on Wall Street and helped deindustrialize America, voted to get us into Syraquistan quagmire, you know, someone like Hillary Clinton whose secretary of state choice, loudly announced when she thought she was going to win, was Victoria Nuland, the wife of Robert Kagan, a Neocon who helped get us into the Middle East Quagmire.

Victoria helped foment the Ukranian Coup 'd Etat and its those sore losers who originated the "Russians are running Trump" horseshit.

Weaponize your wallet guys, withhold whatever spending you can as long as Obama is credited with consumer spending, which is through the end of February.

After that......<sound of bugles>....CHARGE!

ACES FULL's picture

Thats my gameplan. I can get by without another Caterpillar, but another IT38g will make my life a little easier. Why not, either I recycle my money back into the economy or forfeit almost half of it to taxes so the govt can waste it.

I always tell people "I dont give a shit about money, I just like the stuff I can buy with it".

billwilson2's picture

you forgot ... knows how to fuck the little guy. I have no doubt he can make money for his shareholders, but his company has fought climate change, fought environmental regulation, and polluted like crazy. America's people fucked again.