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ExxonMobil is under investigation for a decades-long campaign to suppress climate science. (Photo: AP)

'Unfathomable': Trump Expected to Name Exxon CEO as Secretary of State

Trump is poised to formally appoint Rex Tillerson after reports on Friday

Nadia Prupis


President-elect Donald Trump is expected to formally name ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, NBC News has reported.

The outlet spoke with two sources close to the transition process. One of them also said that John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who has called for the bombing of Iran, will be named deputy secretary of state.

"This is unfathomable," said executive director May Boeve. "We can't let Trump put the world's largest oil company in charge of our international climate policy."

"Just when we thought Trump's cabinet could not get farther away from the needs of the American people, he sneaks in a Saturday appointment of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state," said Cassady Craighill, Greenpeace USA spokesperson. "In this position, Tillerson will try his hardest to silence global initiatives and the right of state attorney generals to hold fossil fuel companies legally accountable for climate change.  We will not silenced, and we will not allow this cabinet of billionaires to steamroll the people."

"This appointment opens the door to ludicrous amounts of self-dealing for Exxon, including shipping American jobs overseas and cutting deals that put big trans-national corporations ahead of American working families," said the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC). "It's an outright betrayal of Trump's voters who thought they were voting against the corporate and political establishment."

Political scientist Ian Bremmer added on Twitter that the appointment of Bolton as deputy secretary was "As strong a rebuke to Obama team as imaginable."


ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson has reportedly risen to the top of President-elect Donald Trump's list for secretary of state nominees, according to new reports.

An anonymous transition official confirmed to media outlets on Friday that Tillerson, who was speculated to be on the list earlier this week, had moved ahead of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, making the ExxonMobil chief the top pick for the position. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani also withdrew his name from consideration on Friday, although he will remain on the transition team.

Tillerson, 64, has been in charge of Exxon since 2006. The oil giant has operations in more than 50 countries and is currently under investigation for a decades-long campaign to suppress climate science. Although Tillerson himself has acknowledged that climate change is real, he would be working under the helm of a president-elect who has called it a Chinese hoax and has sparked fears of a "climate purge" in the coming administration.

Indeed, as co-founder Jamie Henn told the New York Times on Friday, Exxon's seeming embrace of the Paris climate deal is simply lip service, and that "a read of their public energy assessments make it clear they have no intention of helping the world meet that target or adjust their business plans in that direction."

If Tillerson is nominated, Senate Democrats are reportedly planning to use his confirmation hearing to grill him on Exxon's climate fraud. Still, the potential for damage under a Tillerson State Department is "enormous," environmentalists said.

"Covering up climate science and deceiving investors qualifies you for federal investigation, not federal office," May Boeve, executive director of, said earlier this week when it was announced that Tillerson had met with Trump. "An oil baron as secretary of state would do enormous damage."

"Tillerson could deeply disrupt international efforts towards climate action, take retribution against countries that defy the oil industry, and help write more international trade deals that put profit ahead of people and planet," Boeve said. "Rex Tillerson made millions off of Exxon's strategy of denial and doubt, and would have every incentive to continue the deception while secretary of state."

Still on the list are former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who has called for the bombing of Iran; Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis.

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