Donald Trump's rumored secretary of state pick, Rex Tillerson, has very close ties to Russia

Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson has a long history of being friendly toward Russia, which may be bad in a sec of state

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published December 12, 2016 1:08PM (EST)


Donald Trump's rumored pick to be secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, doesn't have any governing experience. But the head of Exxon has something else President-elect Donald Trump may be looking for: close ties to Russia.

During his 41-year career at Exxon, Tillerson has developed close business ties to Vladimir Putin, even opposing U.S. sanctions against Russia after it invaded the Crimea, according to a report by Newsweek on Sunday.

It's something that Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was quick to point out Sunday.

Tillerson's tenure as CEO of Exxon, which started in 2006, was marked by his investing billions of dollars in Russian oil resources by forming a partnership with a Russian oil company, Rosneft, a company that is majority-owned by the Russian government, according to CNN on Sunday. When the deal was officially signed in 2011, Russian leader Vladimir Putin personally attended.

"It’s a matter of concern to me that he has such a close personal relationship with Vladimir Putin and obviously they’ve done enormous deals together. That would color his approach to Vladimir Putin and the Russian threat," Republican Senator John McCain told CBS on Sunday.

President-elect Trump, of course, had glowing praise for Tillerson on his Twitter account.

Tillerson's selection has also raised concern because Trump's national security adviser is expected to be retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who sat beside Russian dictator Vladimir Putin at a banquet in 2015 and has sided with Russia in its support for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in its civil war against ISIS, Newsweek writes.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Donald Trump Rex Tillerson Vladimir Putin