- REUTERS/Alexsey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/Pool
President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly selected Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be his administration’s secretary of state, sources told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Saturday.
Mitchell said that Tillerson will be officially nominated sometime next week “barring some unforeseen change of mind by the president-elect.”
Mitchell also reported that Tillerson – an unusual pick with no political experience – will likely be paired with former UN Ambassador John Bolton, who would serve as deputy secretary.
Tillerson and Trump met on Saturday morning, a transition official told Reuters.
Tillerson had become the leading candidate for the post in recent days, amid high drama and constant speculation over the position for weeks. The Wall Street Journal reported that Tillerson’s emergence as a candidate for the nation’s top diplomatic post came as a surprise to both him and senior Exxon officials.
Tillerson’s nomination may also open up questions about potential conflicts of interest because of Exxon’s large portfolio around the globe. Few US citizens are closer to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, beyond Henry Kissinger, according to The Journal.
Putin and Tillerson cut a deal in 2011 giving Exxon access to oil resources in Russia’s Arctic, though it was eventually blocked by the US sanctions after Russia invaded the Crimean peninsula. Tillerson was awarded the country’s Order of Friendship.
Tillerson’s close ties to Putin will likely come intense scrutiny during his confirmation process if he is nominated. The news of his potential appointment comes a day after the reports emerged that the CIA has concluded Russian hackers deliberately interfered with the election to try to help Trump to victory.
Trump has also considered for the post 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker, Gen. David Petraeus, and Bolton, among others. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was an early frontrunner for the position but withdrew his name from consideration.
A spokeswoman for Trump’s transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.