Washington, D.C. — Center for American Progress President and CEO Neera Tanden issued the following statement on the nomination of Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next secretary of state:
President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next secretary of state shows reckless disregard for America’s national interests. With deep ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, this nominee comes with the Kremlin’s seal of approval. Nominating a man in the pocket of a foreign power is especially dangerous, as we learn more about Russia’s interference on Trump’s behalf in the U.S. election. Tillerson has no previous government experience at any level, having worked his entire career at Exxon Mobil, and his massive conflicts of interest are matched only by those of Trump himself.
Tillerson’s confirmation would seriously blur the lines between U.S. diplomatic priorities and those of the giant oil companies. He and other company executives led Exxon Mobil in funding outside groups to create an illusion of scientific uncertainty around the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change. This decades-long misinformation campaign directly narrowed the world’s window of opportunity to cut emissions and avert the catastrophic effects of climate change.
Tillerson struck investment deals with Russia’s state-owned energy conglomerates in 2011, leading the Kremlin to give him its Order of Friendship award the following year. After Russia’s 2014 military intervention in Ukraine, Tillerson spoke out against U.S. sanctions imposed on Moscow, which blocked Exxon Mobil’s Russian deals and have cost the company more than $1 billion. Should the next administration lift these sanctions, Tillerson’s hundreds of millions of dollars in Exxon Mobil shares would increase considerably in value.
As secretary of state, Tillerson will do what’s best for big oil and Vladimir Putin—not what’s best for the American people and America’s national interests. Congress should reject Rex Tillerson’s nomination to be America’s chief diplomat.
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