Boosters of Donald Trump’s candidate to be the next secretary of state talk about his experience leading one of the world’s largest companies — and so do his detractors.
Fans of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson say running a global energy company equips the 64-year-old with the management tools needed to represent the US abroad. Skeptics say a closer look at that experience raises questions about conflicts of interest and whether the nominee would put US or corporate interests first.
The criticism is bipartisan, with both Republicans and Democrats voicing reservations about the Texan. Scientists, human rights activists and environmental groups also raised concerns Tuesday at the news of Tillerson’s nomination.
What’s their problem? They have a few. Here’s a look.
Trump campaigned hard on the promise that he would “drain the swamp” and target “global special interests” that partner with “corrupt” Washington politicians to rob “our working class.”
Yet Tillerson was recommended to the President-elect by three former government heavyweights: former secretaries of state James Baker and Condoleezza Rice and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. All three, after their government careers, have benefited financially from ExxonMobil contracts.
Tillerson, while a Washington outsider, would also be the latest millionaire to join Trump’s Cabinet, which already has at least seven millionaires and two billionaires. And ExxonMobil, critics say, is the embodiment of global corporate power, a private empire with its own foreign policy.
“People did not vote on November 8 to … have the international corporate establishment be the face of America’s workers and interests around the world,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
The Trump transition team did not respond to a request for comment.
This will likely be the biggest hurdle to clear in confirmation hearings. Tillerson has spearheaded ExxonMobil partnerships with a Russian energy company with ties to President Vladimir Putin, who has given him Russia’s highest honor for a non-citizen.
That connection has fueled concerns particularly because of Russia’s alleged hacking of the elections and Trump’s conciliatory stance toward Moscow, which many lawmakers see as a geopolitical threat. They point to Russian support for the Syrian regime, its 2014 annexation of Crimea, its destabilizing actions in eastern Ukraine and aggressive moves against NATO allies.
Read More: CNN