State Diplomacy Business: Rex Tillerson Trump Pick

Under Rex Tillerson’s leadership, ExxonMobil struck oil this summer drilling in Russia’s Arctic region, despite U.S. sanctions against Kremlin-controlled partner Rosneft. Back home, Tillerson has urged an end to the decades-old ban on exporting U.S. crude oil and also supports lifting regulatory constraints on the building of projects to export liquefied natural gas. As CEO of the world’s most valuable publicly traded oil company, Tillerson presides over an operation that has generated $34 billion in net income in the past year, and paid more than $80 billion in taxes. [FORBES]

THE FACT that Rudy Giuliani bent over backwards to describe Donald J. Trump‘s penchant for grabbing women by the genitals as something trivial. It’s amazing that all Rudy got for it was a ticket to the Army – Navy game to sit with the President-elect and his nominee for the C.I.A., Rep. Pompeo, while back at the office Trump’s national security adviser Mike Flynn kept on trashing the spy agency.

But seriously, whew, that was as close as I want to come to seeing someone like Rudy at the State Department.

As for Rex Tillerson, what I know about him is that he was there for my sister when it counted. He’s not a very big man, which surprised me when he walked into her dining room after my brother in law’s funeral. J. Stephen Simon, Director, Senior VP of ExxonMobil (retired 2008) taught me that some oil men are exceptional. Mr. Tillerson gave one of the eulogies at his funeral and was his boss. I remember visiting my sister and Steve in Rome one year and I saw him in action. These men who live around the world and work the oil business aren’t your average individuals from what I’ve seen, so there is a reason Tillerson comes highly recommended.

Mr. Tillerson emerged as a contender on the strong recommendations of James A. Baker III, the secretary of state under President George Bush, and Robert M. Gates, the former defense secretary, according to a person briefed on the process. [New York Times]

During the BP oil spill the sources I got from the oil world enabled me to understand very quickly what had happened. I wouldn’t have been able to report what I did without them.

The Senate should grill Tillerson and run him through his paces but this pick is another signal that deals rule and at the State Department, diplomacy is about making economic ties that bind. At least Mr. Tillerson is no neoconservative firebrand like John Bolton, and he won’t embarass this country like Rudy would.

If Tillerson makes it through Senators McCain, Graham and Rubio in committee, though I imagine that last name is trying to act tough for whenever Trump leaves Washington, so he won’t be much of a problem. With a 52 vote majority, there is no room for Tillerson to err.

I remain alarmed by Mike Flynn who has proved over the Russian hacking story whose back he’s going to have throughout his tenure at Trump’s side and it isn’t the intelligence officers who risk their lives in secret.

It should surprise no one that Donald Trump doesn’t care about the foreign service.

Rex Tillerson will take marching orders from a different boss now, but the man is savvy and a powerful force around the globe with the leaders to whom he’ll speak. He’s especially known in Russia, Qatar…and to quote Maria Botoromo, he’s done deals with “some bad hombres.” What he knows about diplomacy is wrapped up in every oil deal he’s ever done.

Let’s hope the Senate is serious about vetting this man completely.

If you are one of those people who are against bipartisanship, you are about to get schooled on how important it is for the Senate to be an independent body and for Republican and Democratic senators to band together when a man who runs one of the largest companies in America, and has strong relationships with adversarial leaders who plot against the United States, gets nominated for the fourth most powerful job in the U.S. government.