The Trump selection process for secretary of state veered, jerked, and sputtered its way across the Republican Party for weeks, swaying from potential suitor to suitor like an episode of The Bachelor, before arriving at current Exxon Mobil CEO Rex W. Tillerson. As of Monday evening, the selection is now done and dusted and Tillerson is the pick, according to the New York Times. The president-elect will make the formal announcement on Tuesday.
Tillerson has been at Exxon Mobil for four decades, making him an unconventional choice for America’s top diplomatic position. The oil executive’s dealings with Russia and Vladimir Putin also make him a controversial selection given the current state of play in the U.S.-Russia relationship. “Mr. Tillerson emerged as a contender on the strong recommendations of James A. Baker III, the secretary of state under the first President Bush, and Robert M. Gates, the former defense secretary, according to a person briefed on the process,” according to the Times. “Mr. Kushner and Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, advocated strongly for Mr. Tillerson, and the president-elect became intrigued.”
In the end, despite early dalliances with Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and former Gen. David Petraeus, along with Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, and former Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., Trump chose Tillerson and the hard road to confirmation. The oilman heads a company, like Trump, that is spread across the globe and has financial stakes in many countries, allies and adversaries, of the U.S., including Russia. Exxon Mobil had a billion dollar deal put on hold because of the Obama administration sanctions on Russia. Tillerson himself holds 2.6 million shares of Exxon common stock that Bloomberg valued at about $228 million. Those ties have caused early rumors of Tillerson’s selection to be met with bipartisan concern that could ultimately threaten his confirmation.