by Cassy Fiano | January 5, 2017 8:59 am
Rex Tillerson was Donald Trump’s choice to serve as secretary of state and it was a pick that caused no small amount of controversy. See, Tillerson is ExxonMobile’s CEO, causing people to accuse him of a conflict of interest. So Tillerson has made a big move: he is going to resign.
Democrats immediately pounced on Tillerson’s career with ExxonMobile as a means to attack the appointment. Senator Chris Coons, D-Del, said that he hoped Tillerson could be “enough of a patriot to separate his decades-long affiliation with this major oil company and the genuine interest of the American people.”
Tillerson is now severing all ties with ExxonMobile, where he has served as chairman and CEO for 10 years. His retirement package will be for about $180 million. ExxonMobile released a statement confirming the split and announcing that president Darren Woods would take his place.
“Under the agreement developed in consultation with federal ethics regulators, if Tillerson is confirmed as secretary of state, the value of more than 2 million deferred ExxonMobil shares that he would have received over the next 10 years would be transferred to an independently managed trust and the ExxonMobil share awards would be cancelled,” the statement read.
ExxonMobile’s partnership with Russia has come under particular scrutiny and as CEO, this meant that Tillerson had connections to a Russian energy company, which had direct ties to Vladimir Putin. Tillerson was even awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship Medal by Putin himself, the highest honor for a non-citizen. Tillerson has also supported lifting sanctions against Russia put into place by Barack Obama after they invaded Crimea in the Ukraine. The sanctions meant that ExxonMobile could lose up to $1 billion in profits.
This close relationship with Russia has even Republicans concerned. Marco Rubio tweeted, “being a friend of ‘Vladmir’ is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #Secretary of State.” Coons added that he had concerns that Tillerson “would have reason to advocate for the rolling back of sanctions because that would be in the interests of his company.”
Will Tillerson’s decision to leave ExxonMobile silence his critics? Only time will tell.
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