Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

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.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Coalition Urges Biden to Make 'Transformative Change' in Approach to Global Food and Agriculture

"This pro-corporate agriculture agenda must change under your watch."

Andrea Germanos ·

Mondaire Jones Warns Against Watering Down Human Infrastructure Proposals

The New York Democrat is advocating universal programs, not means-tested ones, for programs in the Build Back Better plan.

Andrea Germanos ·

Manchin Threatening Key Climate Provision: Reports

"To take it out is to decide that climate change isn't a problem."

Andrea Germanos ·

'Make a Gesture of Humanity': Pope Francis Urges Pharma Giants to Release Covid-19 Vaccine Patents

"There are countries where only three or four percent of the inhabitants have been vaccinated."

Andrea Germanos ·

Manchin Fumes After Sanders Op-Ed in West Virginia Paper Calls Out Obstruction of Biden Agenda

"Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for this legislation," wrote Sanders. "Two Democratic senators remain in opposition, including Sen. Joe Manchin."

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo