BUFFALO, NY – President-Elect Donald J. Trump continues to surprise with his nominees for cabinet positions.
Among the latest is the selection of Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State, viewed by many as the “top” cabinet post because it is fourth in the line of succession to the Presidency.
Tillerson is the CEO of Exxon Mobil, and someone Trump views as an international deal maker who can make a difference.
“I love the pick!” exclaimed Rep. Chris Collins (R-27th District), who is a member of the executive committee of President-Elect Trump's transition team.
Collins noted that Tillerson, 64, already heads a global company with nearly as many foreign offices and more than a twice as many employees as the State Department which he has been tapped to lead.
“He’s been the CEO of Exxon Mobile, doing business around the world…he’s an Eagle Scout, former President of the Boy Scouts of America. I mean, talk about an incredible resume,” Collins said.
Of course, the nomination will be subject to confirmation by the United States Senate, where New York’s senior senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat, will be the new minority leader.
“I’m not going to say yes or no today,” Schumer told WGRZ-TV. “He (Tillerson) certainly deserves a hearing, but there are gonna be a lot of tough questions at that hearing," Schumer said.
Primarily, Schumer believes, there will be questions regarding Tillerson’s ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who Schumer referred to on Tuesday as a “bully”.
“I'm also troubled by the fact that he (Tillerson) is opposed to the sanctions we have put on Putin and Russia for their actions in Ukraine and the Baltics," Schumer said.
Schumer also expects Tillerson's vast holdings of Exxon stock and the company's financial ties to Russia to come under scrutiny.
"I would not like to see a Secretary of State having lots of existing financial interests in Russia at the same time he's negotiating with Putin,” said Schumer. “That would be a serious problem.”
“I don’t share those concerns,” said Collins. “First of all, he (Tillerson) would have to divest his holdings. That's a requirement for those joining the administration, so there won’t be any conflicts of interest when he is Secretary of State.”
Collins added: “The fact that he's done business in many nations and knows people in them gives him a head start.”
“He may have good qualifications,” said Schumer. “But there are good questions that need to be asked, and if he answers them satisfactorily, I wouldn't rule out supporting him. “