So, Donald Trump has selected his Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil. There are a solid number of serious questions about Tillerson, beginning with his overwhelmingly warm relationship with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, for whom Trump displayed similar warmth during the campaign. “I am honored by President-elect Trump’s nomination and share his vision for restoring the credibility of the United States’ foreign relations and advancing our country’s national security,” said Tillerson.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Tillerson Is Pro-Putin. Tillerson has spent more time with Putin than virtually anyone else in the United States. As John Hamre, former deputy defense secretary under Bill Clinton, said, “He has more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American with the exception of Henry Kissinger.” Tillerson put in place a lucrative oil deal with Putin; that deal was blocked by sanctions. Just after that deal, Putin gave Tillerson the Order of Friendship. The Russians are extraordinarily excited about Tillerson. A Russian MP who mocked the Navy Yard shootings as “American exceptionalism” is over the moon about the Trump pick.
2. Tillerson Is Pro-Global Warming Legislation. As Jim Geraghty of National Review points out this morning, Tillerson has been an advocate of anthropomorphic global warming:
At ExxonMobil, we share the view that the risks of climate change are serious and warrant thoughtful action. Addressing these risks requires broad-based, practical solutions around the world. Importantly, as a result of the Paris agreement, both developed and developing countries are now working together to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, while recognizing differing national responsibilities, capacities and circumstances. In our industry, the best hope for the future is to enable and encourage long-term investments in both proven and new technologies, while supporting effective policies. Which is what we are doing. We have long supported a carbon tax as the best policy of those being considered.
3. Tillerson’s Top Endorsers Have Contracts With Him. Two of the big names being trotted out to defend Tillerson are former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Rice and Gates run a consulting firm. Can you guess who one of their clients is? You got it: Rex Tillerson. Former Secretary of State James Baker also backs Tillerson…and his law firm has represented Exxon and Russian-owned Rosneft, as well as the Russian state gas company Gazprom.
4. As Head of Exxon, Tillerson Veered Left on Social Issues. Tony Perkins of Family Research Council says that Tillerson’s a rotten pick thanks to his embrace of leftist social policy at Exxon, including funding Planned Parenthood and pushing the Boy Scouts to include gay scoutmasters. Here’s Perkins: “if these are the kinds of deals Tillerson makes….then who knows what sort of "diplomacy" he would champion at DOS?”
5. Trump May Relieve Russian Sanctions. Reince Priebus, Trump’s White House chief of staff, appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to talk about the Tillerson pick. Nick Confessore of The New York Times asked Priebus whether Trump would “keep sanctions in place or not” against Russia; sanctions were imposed on Russia after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Priebus stated, “I am not prepared to outline our foreign policy to you… you have to just wait and see.” Oh goody. Tillerson has opposed sanctions against Russia in the past, and Priebus defended Tillerson by saying that Tillerson just doesn’t want sanctions that “aren’t enforced.” Which isn’t true. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Trump move in a more overtly pro-Russian direction – he spent the entire campaign cycle massaging Putin’s buttocks, from equating American violence with Putin murdering dissidents to pretending that Russia had nothing to do with the hacks of the DNC. Two weeks ago, a “top Russian official” tried to excoriate Ukraine for “undermining Trump’s presidential campaign.”
6. Republican Leadership Are Bending The Knee To Trump. Here’s Priebus, channeling the old Democratic line that Obama was right to kowtow to dictators because you don’t make peace with your friends, you make peace with your enemies: “I don’t know how we got to the place where having an actual functional relationship with someone who might not be a person that we’d first think of to have that relationship is suddenly a bad thing. I mean we have a lot of problems in this world and we’re not going to solve those problems by making believe that people don’t exist and so America first, that’s what President-elect Trump lives by every day, that’s what’s in his head every day, Americans first, America first, we’re going to be tough across the world.” So, the answer to these charges of Tillerson-Putin connections is MAGAMAGAMAGANOTLISTENINGMAGAMAGAAMERICAFIRSTMAGA. Good times. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has signaled he’s fine with Tillerson, and so has Senate Majority Leader McConnell. They’re both under the impression that if they massage Trump’s buttocks the way Putin did, they’ll get some concessions from Trump. That’s foolish. Trump only does what Trump wants to do.
7. Mitt Romney Just Got Joffreyed. Poor, poor Mitt Romney. Like Ned Stark, he proffered his most abject apologies to King Joffrey Baratheon Trump, and Joffrey beheaded him publicly while selecting a businessman who opposes most aspects of Romney’s foreign policy.
Trump has made some excellent cabinet selections – in fact, he made one today in picking former Texas Governor Rick Perry for his cabinet. But the Tillerson pick is a rotten one. And no, Republicans won’t stand up and be counted to stop him.