This may be the most controversial pick yet.
When you’re trying to assuage concerns that your election victory was partially the result of one-sided, Russian interference, and when an investigation into said, alleged interference is pending, you may not want to hire someone who, just three years prior, received the Order of Friendship (a high, but purely ceremonial honor) from Vladimir Putin himself. You also may not want to hire someone who has spoke out against Russian sanctions levied by the U.S. following their annexation of Crimea, because it quashed an estimated $500 billion deal he made to drill in Russia’s arctic. You may also not want to hire someone who, as CNN Money reported was called a “sensation” by the head of Russia’s Foreign Affairs Committee and has had silently awkward, Champagne toasts with Putin and friends. You may also not want to hire someone who said he has a “very close relationship” with Putin.
And when you’re constantly answering to claims of conflicts of interest within your impending administration, you may not want to hire someone who holds over $150 million in shares of Exxon, a company which operates in every continent on this sphere, and when the aforementioned, currently frozen, $500 billion deal hangs in the balance.
But PEOTUS Donald Trump has never been one to shy away from conflict or to bend to the constraints of public concern.
So, it’s Tillerson. The 64-year old oil man from Texas has been with Exxon since the 70’s, and became CEO in 2006. While he has no direct, diplomatic experience, he has done deals on behalf of Exxon all over the world. This counts as some global, deal-making experience surely, but it’s not exactly what he’ll be doing as Secretary of State. And that’s if he’s approved, which is not a certainty by any means.
He needs a simple majority in the senate for approval, but many prominent GOP senators including John McCain, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham have already expressed their concern. And that’s all it would take. If three GOP senators oppose the appointment, he’s out. It’s also worth noting that, as the New York Times reported, Tillerson is not liked by many social conservatives due to his instrumental role in lifting the Boy Scouts of America’s LGBTQ ban, and for Exxon’s sizeable donations to Planned Parenthood.
Tillerson seems to be the most vulnerable appointment thus far, and if certain members of the GOP stand in opposition, the Trump presidency may start off on a rather contentious note within his own party. Of course, as senators on both sides are wont to do, these armchair rogues very well may fall back in line eventually.
One thing is for sure, with Russia being one of the biggest news stories of the last few months, and rising to a fervor in recent days, the Tillerson hearings are going to be must-see TV.
by Jesse Mechanic
Jesse Mechanic is the editor in chief of The Overgrown.