President-elect tapped a Texas oil tycoon to fill the nation’s top diplomatic post and lead the State Department.
The current Chairman and CEO for ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson is Trump’s pick for Secretary of State.
Tuesday’s official announcement of another unconventional choice for Trump’s cabinet was met with mixed reviews.
A Texas native, Tillerson has strong ties to Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Tillerson was awarded the “Order of Friendship” from Putin in 2013.
As the Chairman and CEO for ExxonMobil, Tillerson has billions of dollars in oil contracts that can only go forward if the United States lifts sanctions against Russia.
“It’s concerning that somebody who has been doing business with Russia, that’s been working with Russia to open its markets is going to be Trump’s top pick,” said Manny Garcia, Deputy Director of the Democratic Party of Texas. “That is not going to protect Texas jobs, that’s not going to protect Texas’ energy industry,” Garcia continued.
The Texas GOP spokesman, Mike Joyce, said Tillerson is a great pick for Texas and the U.S. as a whole.
“Who better to oversee Secretary of State?” Joyce asked of Tillerson. “He has such a wonderful experience working with hand and hand with foreign governments already so I think he’s going to be an excellent nomination.”
Like Trump, 64-year-old Tillerson has no formal foreign policy experience but the business man has brokered international deals and built close relationships with many world leaders.
On Tuesday Trump tweeted, “The thing I like best about Rex Tillerson is that he has vast experience at dealing successfully with all types of foreign governments.”
The proactive pick is expected to start a heated confirmation battle in the senate. Tillerson, like all of Trump’s cabinet picks, must get congressional approval.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio said he had “serious concerns” about the pick in a statement Tuesday.
People who oppose the selection fear Tillerson and Trump would bring U.S. policy more in line with Russia.
Rep. Sen. John McCain also voiced concerns about Tillerson and his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“This guy is a thug and a murderer and I don’t see how anybody could be a friend of this old-time KGB agent,” McCain said about Putin Tuesday.
McCain is one of the high-profile senators calling for a bipartisan probe of Russia’s alleged involvement in the U.S. election last month.
The CIA reportedly concluded Russia intervened to help Trump win the White House.
The President-elect has repeatedly said there is no evidence to suggest that Russia played any role in the presidential election, calling CIA’s assessment “ridiculous.”
At the Democratic Party of Texas’ headquarters in Austin, Garcia said the call for a bipartisan investigation isn’t about who won the election. Garcia said, “Our government was attacked, our elections, the very fabric of our nation was attacked by a foreign power.”
Two U.S. Congressmen from Texas, one Democrat and one Republican, have called for Congress to investigate Russia’s alleged involvement.
Rep. Joaquín Castro, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee insisted on a thorough probe.
Texas Republican Rep. Michael, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, has also called for an investigation.