(Corrects spelling of Condoleezza Rice's first name)
By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON Dec 13 President-elect Donald Trump
will announce Exxon Mobil Corp's Rex Tillerson as his choice for
secretary of state on Tuesday, a senior transition official
said, confident that the oil executive can get past questions
about his ties to Russia.
Trump is to make the announcement on Tuesday morning, going
with a business leader whose experience in diplomacy is from
making deals with foreign countries for the world's largest
Trump picked Tillerson, 64, after the Texan was backed by
several Republican establishment figures including former
Secretary of State James Baker, former Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the
transition official said.
Their backing is seen as key to helping Tillerson get past a
possibly contentious Senate confirmation battle that is likely
to focus on his relationship with Russian President Vladimir
In 2013, Putin bestowed a Russian state honor, the Order of
Friendship, on Tillerson, citing his work "strengthening
cooperation in the energy sector."
Trump judged in making the pick that Tillerson could
adequately address questions about his ties to Russia, an
Lawmakers from both major parties have raised questions
about Tillerson and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, who has
been mentioned as a possible No. 2 State Department official and
who has voiced hawkish views on Iraq and Iran.
Separately, a source close to the transition said Trump had
chosen former Texas Governor Rick Perry as his nominee for
energy secretary, with an announcement expected soon. Perry met
Trump on Monday at Trump Tower in New York.
Republicans and Democrats said Tillerson, who is president
of Exxon Mobil Corp, would be asked about his ties to
Russia, having met Putin several times. He won fresh praise from
Moscow on Monday.
Senator John McCain, a leading foreign policy voice and 2008
Republican candidate for president, told Reuters in an
interview: "I have concerns. It's very well known that he has a
very close relationship with Vladimir Putin."
The pick comes amid controversy over the role that alleged
Russian cyber hacking may have had on the outcome of the Nov. 8
While busily filling out his Cabinet, Trump is seeking to
answer questions about how he will separate himself from his
far-flung business empire before taking over the presidency on
He had planned a news conference on Thursday to lay out the
details but delayed it on Tuesday due to what aides said was the
crush of picking people to serve in his administration.
In a series of late-night tweets on Monday, Trump said he
will be leaving his business before Jan. 20 so he can focus
full-time on the presidency and that he would leave his two
sons, Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, to manage it.
He did not mention his daughter, Ivanka, who has been a
central player in Trump's business affairs and who is said to be
considering a move to Washington to help her father.
"No new deals will be done during my term(s) in office,"
He said he would hold a press conference "in the near future
to discuss the business, Cabinet picks and all other topics of
interest. Busy times!"
Trump chose Tillerson over 2012 Republican presidential
nominee Mitt Romney, who had famously criticized Trump during
the party's fight for a nominee this year. Trump called Romney
to tell him he had decided to choose someone else for the job.
"It was an honor to have been considered for secretary of
state of our great country," Romney said in a Facebook posting
on Monday night.
"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," he said.
(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Richard Pullin)