Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Hard Sell for Secretary of State
As there is no sane reason to believe Rex Tillerson is in any way capable of acting as Secretary of State, Donald Trump is gathering all the important people he can to vouch for his (Putin's) choice.
President-elect Donald J. Trump is enlisting veteran members of the Republican foreign policy establishment to vouch for Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, as his choice to be the nation’s chief diplomat.Having had to play kissy-face with Putin, Rex may not be totally hopeless, but this is a pick that will require the public watching what his underlings do because they are the ones who will actually run the State Department.
To win Senate confirmation, Mr. Tillerson will need to counter bipartisan skepticism about his ties to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia over his long career at the giant energy company. Hearings are expected to focus, in particular, on the potential conflict between Exxon’s oil and gas deals and American sanctions on Russia.
But Mr. Trump’s transition team has lined up high-profile endorsements for Mr. Tillerson that began to roll out early Tuesday morning and were intended to address concerns about Russia and Mr. Putin, according to people familiar with the plan. The transition team’s goal is to press for a swift confirmation after Mr. Trump is inaugurated next month.
Robert M. Gates, who served as secretary of defense under President Obama and President George W. Bush, strongly endorsed Mr. Tillerson in a statement Tuesday morning, calling him “a global champion of the best values of our country” and saying he would bring “vast knowledge, experience and success in dealing with dozens of governments and leaders in every corner of the world.”
Others expected to strongly back Mr. Tillerson — and to reject concerns about Russia — are said to include former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretaries of State James A. Baker III and Condoleezza Rice, among others.
Senator Bob Corker, who was a finalist to become Mr. Trump’s secretary of state and will oversee confirmation hearings as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also issued an enthusiastic statement about Mr. Tillerson’s selection on Tuesday. “Mr. Tillerson is a very impressive individual and has an extraordinary working knowledge of the world,” Mr. Corker said. “I congratulate him on his nomination and look forward to meeting with him and chairing his confirmation hearing.”
In the last several days, Republican and Democratic lawmakers warned that Mr. Tillerson would face intense scrutiny over his relationship with Russia, which awarded him its Order of Friendship in 2013, and with Mr. Putin.
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