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The Top Challenges Facing Tillerson's Senate Confirmation Process
12/17/2016 Election Lesley F
keywords: Big Oil Executive Department Financial Regulation Political Conflict Trump

In the three days since President-Elect Donald Trump named ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his choice for Secretary of State, opponents of Tillerson's nomination have begun vocally decrying the President-Elect's pick. From his personal connections to his actions during his tenure as CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson's critics have already found plenty of fodder to bring his nomination into question. Here are the biggest issues that Tillerson currently faces as he gears up for the confirmation process:

Tillerson's Russian connections

The loudest criticism of Tillerson so far seems to center around his personal friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his business relationship through ExxonMobil with Rosneft, a government-run oil company led by Putin's close friend. Tillerson's Russian ties have sparked criticism from prominent Senate Republicans including Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), raising concerns that Trump's own party will sink his cabinet pick.

ExxonMobil's environmental track record

As CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson has been deeply involved in the oil giant's efforts to oppose greenhouse gas regulations and its questioning of climate change, a history likely to raise concerns among Senate Democrats. Moreover, a campaign against ExxonMobil led by several environmental groups based on the company's hidden internal research on the impact of fossil fuels is already in full swing, and the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York are currently investigating the oil company for potential corporate fraud.

ExxonMobil's deal for Iraqi oil

In 2011, Tillerson placed his company directly in the middle of an ongoing struggle between the central Iraqi authority in Baghdad and the partly-autonomous Kurds when he bypassed the terms set by the central Iraqi government for a proposed ExxonMobil oil project in order to sign a deal with the Kurdish authorities directly. Both the U.S. State Department and the Iraqi government were furious with ExxonMobil's actions, stating that the move went against the stated "one Iraq" policy of the United States government. The State Department later linked Tillerson and ExxonMobil's deal to a weakening of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government.

The specter of ExxonMobil globally

ExxonMobil has long been a major critical target for environmentalists and liberals based on a multitude of alleged actions by the company around the world, and placing the former CEO of the oil giant at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy potentially provides Trump's detractors with ammunition to call into question his positions on international policy for the duration of his presidency.

Source: Lesley F

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