President-elect Donald Trump has picked Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, his team confirmed Tuesday morning.
“I have chosen one of the truly great business leaders of the world, Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, to be Secretary of State,” Trump said in a tweet.
Tillerson’s nomination came after weeks of speculation and numerous rumored candidates, including 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
“His tenacity, broad experience, and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for secretary of state. He will promote regional stability and focus on the core national security interests of the United States,” Trump said.
He continued: “Rex knows how to manage a global enterprise, which is crucial to running a successful State Department, and his relationships with leaders all over the world are second to none. I can think of no one more prepared, and no one more dedicated, to serve as secretary of state at this critical time in our history.”
Word of Tillerson’s candidacy first surfaced via Trump transition officials on Saturday. The 64-year-old Texas native has no formal diplomatic experience, and he has spent his entire career at Exxon.
“I am honored by President-elect Trump’s nomination and share his vision for restoring the credibility of the United States’ foreign relations and advancing our country’s national security,” Tillerson said in a statement released by the Trump team. “We must focus on strengthening our alliances, pursuing shared national interests and enhancing the strength, security, and sovereignty of the United States.”
Tillerson had the support of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and former Secretary of State James Baker, among other establishment Republicans.
Tillerson’s nomination may come with some baggage, however, as both Democrats and Republicans have accused him of coziness with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Tillerson dealt with Russia extensively as Exxon CEO, and he received the Order of Friendship decoration from the country in 2013.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was one leading Republican to voice concern over Tillerson’s nomination:
Being a “friend of Vladimir” is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #SecretaryOfState – MR
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) December 11, 2016
Other candidates who had been considered for Trump’s secretary of state included Romney, Giuliani, former CIA Director David Petraeus, and retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly.
Chris Sanchez contributed to this report.