President-elect Donald Trump has selected Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to lead the State Department, dismissing concerns about the businessman's close ties with Russia, two people close to Trump's transition said Monday night.Trump's argument is that familiarity will be helpful:
Trump's decision caps a lengthy process that often played out in public and exposed rifts within his transition team. It also sets Trump up for a potential fight with Congress over confirming Tillerson, who has connections with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a weekend interview with "Fox News Sunday," Trump cast Tillerson's deep relations with Moscow as a selling point. As Exxon Mobil's head, he maintained close ties with Russia and was awarded by Putin with the Order of Friendship in 2013, an honor for a foreign citizen.We're spending a lot of time worrying about Russia lately, even though we'd been assured just four years ago that Russia isn't such a problem:
"A great advantage is he knows many of the players, and he knows them well. He does massive deals in Russia. He does massive deals for the company," Trump said.
When the 1980s call, do you accept the charges?
The current Secretary of State is John Kerry, the dictionary definition of a pompous ass and a figure of mockery in much of the world. It's possible that Tillerson could be worse than Kerry, but I'm not quite sure how. I might have preferred someone like Mitt Romney, but Trump's reading of the situation is understandable. In the business world, we often talk about "transferable skills" and the skill set of a CEO for a multinational corporation likely is a better fit than, say, the skill set of a pompous ass. I also imagine Tillerson will be far more likely to stick with Trump's program. That matters as well.