President-elect Donald Trump has selected Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be his nominee for Secretary of State, two sources close to the transition process told NBC News on Saturday.
Tillerson, 64, became president of the oil company in 2004 and has a close business relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
From The Hill:
Tillerson had reportedly jumped to the front of the pack of candidates in recent days, despite not being mentioned on shortlists as recently as last week.
Critics have already called into question Tillerson’s ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Tillerson negotiated an energy partnership with Putin in 2011 that the Russian president said could be worth $500 billion.
The following year, Tillerson received the Russian Order of Friendship, one of the highest awards the country bestows upon foreign nationals.
Reuters reported earlier this year that the Exxon Mobil deal with Russia had been put on hold due to sanctions levied against the Kremlin for its annexation of Crimea in 2014. The company has said it intends to resume the deal after sanctions are lifted — a process that Tillerson could help expedite as secretary of State.
Tillerson will be paired with former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as his deputy secretary of state for day-to-day management of the department, one source added.
While Tillerson met Saturday with Trump at Trump Tower in New York, nothing is final until Trump officially announces it, which will likely be next week.
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