- The Washington Times - Monday, December 12, 2016

Donald Trump will announce on Tuesday that ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is his choice for secretary of state, CBS News and other outlets reported

Mr. Tillerson, 64, has served as chairman and CEO of the Texas-based oil giant, the most valuable publicly traded oil company in the world, since 2006.

Mr. Trump had tweeted Monday evening that he would announce his choice for secretary of state on Tuesday morning.

According to The New York Times, citing “people familiar with the president-elect’s final choice,” former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, retired Gen. David Petraeus and Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee all were told over the phone late Monday that they were being passed over in favor of Mr. Tillerson.

A possible Tillerson nomination for the State Department was floated late last week, and met with swift resistance from officials in both parties amid concerns about his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, his lifelong ties to Big Oil and the president-elect adding another wealthy businessman to the Cabinet.

Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the potential nomination “alarming and absurd.” Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Mr. Tillerson’s close business relationship with Mr. Putin are “a matter of concern to me.”

But the president-elect himself defended the then-possible choice in an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” calling him “a world-class player” and ExxonMobil “a company that’s been unbelievably managed.”

He also said Mr. Tillerson’s relationship with Mr. Putin wasn’t a liability but an asset.

“To me, a great advantage is he knows many of the players. And he knows them well. He does massive deals in Russia,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Romney, a fierce critic of Mr. Trump’s during the campaign who later emerged as a candidate for the post, announced Monday night on Facebook that he was out of the running.

“It was an honor to have been considered for Secretary of State of our great country,” Mr. Romney wrote. “My discussions with President-elect Trump have been both enjoyable and enlightening. I have very high hopes that the new administration will lead the nation to greater strength, prosperity and peace.”

S.A. Miller contributed to this report.

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