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Trump nominates ExxonMobil CEO Tillerson as secretary of state

By Stephen Feller
Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil Corp. Rex Tillerson, pictured testifying before the Senate in 2006, was announced as President-elect Donald Trump's selection for secretary of state on Tuesday morning. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil Corp. Rex Tillerson, pictured testifying before the Senate in 2006, was announced as President-elect Donald Trump's selection for secretary of state on Tuesday morning. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday nominated ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, calling him "one of the truly great business leaders of the world."

Trump made the announcement on Twitter, dismissing concerns about Tillerson's lack of diplomatic experience.

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"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 tweeted.

Later in the morning, he touted Tillerson's experience.

"The thing I like best about Rex Tillerson is that he has vast experience at dealing successfully with all types of foreign governments."

Tillerson, 64, has worked for Exxon for nearly 40 years and been the chairman and chief executive officer of ExxonMobil since January 2006, making him responsible for one of the largest companies in the world with operations in about 50 countries.

Tillerson's business acumen and experience negotiating business deals are considered among his most attractive qualities to Trump -- the president-elect called him a "world class player and dealmaker" in a tweet on Sunday. Trump has also previously described Tillerson as being in a different "league" than other candidates he met with.

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Tillerson is expected to get some pushback during confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate as several Republicans already are questioning the executive's relationship with Russian leaders, specifically President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian president has given Tillerson awards during the decades they have known each other, which Sen. John McCain and others have called concerning.

Tillerson was selected from a list that had grown in the last couple of weeks. At the outset, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was thought to have an inside track for the job, but Trump also considered Sen. Bob Corker, former and director of the CIA and U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

Speculation had abounded that Mitt Romney might be selected, despite the former presidential candidate's pointed criticism of Trump's business practices and potential pitfalls in the White House, after the two met twice and then had dinner together in New York City.

"It was an honor to have been considered for Secretary of State of our great country," Romney posted on his Facebook page before Trump's selection had been confirmed with the transition. "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."

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