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6 Things to Know About... Rex Tillerson


Businessman Rex Tillerson, President Donald Trump's choice to lead the State Department, was confirmed by the Senate Wednesday, receiving the approval of 56 senators. Tillerson faced a tough confirmation hearing in the Senate due to his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin, which prompted concerns from both Democrats and Republicans, but enough senators overcame those concerns to get Tillerson confirmed. Here are six things to know about Rex Tillerson:


  1. He has worked for Exxon Mobil for over 40 years. In 1975, Tillerson joined ExxonMobil as a production engineer. He became Chairman and CEO of the company in 2006.

  1. He received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975. Two of his four children have also earned engineering degrees from the university.

  1. Unlike many of Trump’s cabinet nominees, Tillerson has previously voiced support of the Paris climate change agreement.  At a Exxon shareholders meeting earlier this year, he also stated, “we have to have some technology breakthroughs, but in the meantime, just saying ‘turn the taps off’ is not acceptable to humanity.”

  1. Tillerson has been active in the Boy Scouts of America for most of his life. In addition to being a longtime volunteer and Eagle Scout, he also served as their national president from 2010 to 2012. This is the organization’s highest non-executive position.

  1. He has a strong relationship with Russia. Tillerson cultivated a working relationship with Vladimir Putin in the 1990s while working on an Exxon project on Russian island Sakhalin. Tillerson also became the director of Exxon Neftegas, Exxon’s Russian subsidiary, in 1998. He was later awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship in 2013 for his part in creating a partnership between ExxonMobil and state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft.

  2. Tillerson opposes sanctions and reportedly called them “ineffective” during a meeting in 2014. According to The Dallas Business Journal, he stated, “we do not support sanctions, generally, because we don’t find them to be effective unless they are very well implemented comprehensively and that’s a very hard thing to do.”

Updated: Feb. 1, 3:20 p.m.

Learn more about Donald Trump's cabinet picks:
Labor Secretary: Andrew Puzder
Homeland Security Secretary: Gen. John F. Kelly
Defense Secretary: Gen. James Mattis 
Commerce Secretary: Wilbur Ross
Interior Secretary: Ryan Zinke
Energy Secretary: Rick Perry
Housing and Urban Development secretary: Ben Carson
Treasury Secretary: Steven Mnuchin
Attorney General: Jeff Sessions
Transportation Secretary: Elaine Chao
Education Secretary: Betsy DeVos
Health and Human Services Secretary: Tom Price
Chief of Staff: Reince Priebus