Secretary of State

Secretary of State

In 2011, U.S. sanctions delayed Exxon's $500 billion oil deal with Russia to drill in Russia and the Arctic. This was the biggest oil deal in the history of the world. What will happen with Trump as president and Tillerson, the former CEO (2006-2016) of Exxon as Secretary of State?

Remnant | January 12, 2017

I watched the Rex Tillerson Senate hearings and was impressed.

RT is an articulate, poised, and knowledgeable man, who maintained a firm gravitas throughout.

It was a real pleasure to watch these hearings and a lot of reassurance on his qualifications for the job.

flight505 | January 12, 2017

Tillerson was CEO of Exxon until 12/31/16, after Trump called on him for the Secretary of State job.

Do you understand the huge conflict of interest between Exxon's interest and the interest of the American people? Forbes has an article online from 2011 about Exxon and Russia and United States sanctions.

SCCRENDO | January 12, 2017

@Remnant. Did you watch it on Faux News or another channel? I heard Marco Rubio and in fact other Republicans tear into him and he hardly answered a question. He was not sure whether Putin and Russia committed war crimes in Syria and deserved sanctions. He did break with Trump on a few issues as well. Such as whether he thought the annexation of Crimea was ok. He was against Iranian sanctions. Also tried to make an independent deal with the Kurds for oil against US foreign policy. Guess he must be ok for people who are such Trump psychophants that they will overlook Trump adapting his foreign policy for his business and personal interests. If he loses a couple Republicans as he may well, he wont be confirmed.

Silver2K | January 12, 2017

Rubio thought he was a complete idiot.

SCCRENDO | January 12, 2017

@Silver. I have often thought Rubio to be a complete idiot but I was very impressed with how he handled the questioning yesterday. He asked good questions, knew his stuff and was very tough. He was not impressed with Tillerson and I would also guess neither is he impressed with Trump.

Silver2K | January 12, 2017

the whole new administration acts like they have been blind folded and deafened their whole lives.

Dramsey | January 12, 2017


I'm seeing a little cognitive dissonance here:

"He was not sure whether Putin and Russia committed war crimes in Syria and deserved sanctions."

Seems like a reasonable answer for someone who's currently a private citizen and whose only information on Syria comes from the news. Also, once you publicly brand Putin a "war criminal" during your confirmation hearings, you've kinda limited your options towards dealing with him once you're actually Secretary of State. Personally, I'd be walking on eggshells answering questions like this, too.

"He did break with Trump on a few issues as well. Such as whether he thought the annexation of Crimea was ok."

Well, the current administration must have thought it was OK, too. Because they did nothing about it.

"He was against Iranian sanctions."

See above. Not only did the current administration drop them, they gave Iran tens of billions of dollars.

Some of these criticisms are valid, in my opinion-- I don't see, for example, how anyone can be against Iranian sanctions. It's just that progressives seem perfectly fine with them as long as these positions are held by one of their own.

SCCRENDO | January 12, 2017


"He was not sure whether Putin and Russia committed war crimes in Syria and deserved sanctions."
Many would look at it as avoidance [particularly in light of his relationship with Putin. If he does not recognize what Russia has done perhaps he is not perceptive enough to be Secretary. Trump seemed very concerned when Obama would not use the term "radical Islamic terrorist"

"He did break with Trump on a few issues as well. Such as whether he thought the annexation of Crimea was ok."
Obama did impose sanctions on Russia. Remember. The ones that Trump may want to drop

"He was against Iranian sanctions.
These were the original sanctions that were imposed and worked well. They were only dropped because we got what many of us and most of the rest of the world thought was a good deal

KP in NPT | January 12, 2017

Rex Tillerson is obviously a smart man - he didn't get to be CEO of Exxon because he's a dope.

But that does not mean he is suitable to be secretary of state. Just the fact that his company stands to gain billions by being able to tap in to the millions of acres of land they have drilling rights to in Russia if sanctions are lifted should be reason alone to disqualify him. Clear conflict of interest even if he is no longer the CEO once taking the job.

I also don't think being CEO of a company qualifies you as a top diplomat. Just like being a real estate magnate and TV show producer/host doesn't qualify you to be president.

Dwdnjck@ca | January 12, 2017

If sanctions are lifted and the $500 billion oil deal goes through, what will Tillerson's commission be? What is Tump's take?

Dramsey | January 12, 2017


"Many would look at it as avoidance [particularly in light of his relationship with Putin."

Well, they might. Now, as a retired programmer with a degree in biology, I am an expert on neither diplomacy nor foreign policy. But it seems to me that badgering a candidate for SoS-- the nation's top diplomat-- to declare another head of state a "war criminal" _even before taking office_ is an action that quite literally has no upside. It accomplishes absolutely nothing and ties your hands rather effectively once you're in office.

I'd assume the SoS has access to a lot of information that civilians don't have. It seems only prudent to me to avoid pre-emptively staking down any hard-and-fast positions until you have all the information.

I don't understand why Rubio thought it was something that needed to be nailed down RIGHT NOW. Now, if you want an incoming administration official to say nasty things about Russia, might I suggest James "Mad Dog" Mattis?

"These were the original sanctions that were imposed and worked well. They were only dropped because we got what many of us and most of the rest of the world thought was a good deal."

And now that we, and most of the rest of the world, now knows the deal was a terrible mistake, has the current administration imposed the "snap-back" sanctions we were assured, many times, would instantly take effect if Iran breached any conditions of the deal?

It just seems odd to me that progressives are excoriating candidates for not holding positions contrary to what progressives themselves, as well as the outgoing administration, have held. I mean, if they think that aggressively confronting Russia and labeling Putin a war criminal is the thing to do, why have they been silent on the issue until now?

P.S. In your original message, it should be "sycophant." Unless you were cleverly inventing a new term combining "psychopath" and "sycophant", in which case, kudos! I'm gonna steal that one myself.

SCCRENDO | January 12, 2017


As regards Tillerson being evasive i would say this was a game. he is well aware of the concerns of Democrats and at least some Republicans of the concern with him and Trump cozying up to Russia. And frankly to anyone following the news without even an intelligence briefing can be sure that Putin and Russia have committed war crimes on multiple occasions. I heard his testimony and this left me in no doubt he was hedging.

Most of the world feels that the Iran deal was a good deal but I respect the difference of opinion and no need to litigate it again here. Unfortunately for the Trump regime Elvis has left the building so if the US now tried reinstate unilateral sanctions it would not have any teeth because China, Russia and others would not go along with it.

Again to repeat the Obama administration did impose sanctions on Russia and they have just been strengthened

compchat | January 12, 2017


So one minute he is a complete idiot and the next minute Rubio was very impressive ?

BTW, what's wrong with coyzing up to Russia ? Who said keep your friends close but your enemies closer ?

SCCRENDO | January 12, 2017

@compchat. Welcome back

RedShift | January 12, 2017


By that logic Islamic terrorists can become our BFFs now.


mlake48 | January 12, 2017

Please just leave Iran alone. All the wonderful young people there, speaking of Mr. Trump, say "Please keep your fingers crossed for us..."

malcolm.hall1932 | January 13, 2017

I think there was another important question that Tillerson refused to answer, even when pressed, which was something along the lines of - "Are you in favour of collecting meta data on US Muslims?" I might be wrong - I was worn out after watching it all.

drklain | January 13, 2017

Having done a tour as a Legislative Fellow on the staff of a US Senator back in 2001 when I was in the Navy, I have some insights. The Senator I was assigned to served on the Senate Armed Services Committee and I staffed all the defense confirmation hearings (from Secretary of Defense on down to other Bush appointees as well as military flag/general officer confirmations).

- In general, most of the questions and remarks by Senators are prepared in advance by their staffs (who are the experts on the issues - Senators are on so many committees covering such a broad span that there are generally only a few topics they are really knowledgeable in relative to how many committees they serve on. This is different from the House).
- The nominees and the administration (regardless of party) are always careful to caveat things on "if confirmed" and not assuming the confirmation will be happen out of deference to the Senate's constitutional role to confirm.
- While they many have knowledge (and even opinions) on topics, nominees typically defer answering in official answers until they can consult with the relevant agencies/departments as well as conduct a thorough review of the issues. This is especially relevant when talking about issues which are impacted by a complex overlapping of laws, regulations, treaties, international practice as well as US policies (both states and unstated). The result is that you get answers such as Secretary of State nominee Tillerson offered.
- While there is no question that politics play a part in nominations and approvals, generally the Senate has deferred and approved the President's nominees unless there was a smoking gun that made the nominee either (a) unqualified or (b) was so objectionable so as to justify failing to confirm (note this is different than the almost-always-political holds placed on nominees by individual Senators).

Just my 2 cents' worth

ParklandFLMike | January 14, 2017

Watching Rubio during the hearings accuse Russia of war crimes made me feel like we are a bunch of hypocrites if we ignore how many civilians the US killed during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Whether it was intentional or by accident, a lot of innocent people died.

ParklandFLMike | January 14, 2017

I think it is a huge risk to put confirm a former CEO of Exxon as secretary of state. Foreign policy can easily affect the price of oil. If you don't think it matters, then you also probably think it was just a coincidence that we ended up in a war with Iraq, Halliburton ending up with a $40 billion no bid contract, and Vice President Dick Cheney used to be CEO of Halliburton.

flight505 | January 14, 2017

Right, Chaney was CEO of Haliburton and look how that went. Now another Republican puts an Exxon CEO in as SOS with huge conflicts of interest.

J.T. | January 14, 2017

@Parkland Innocent people dying don't make it a crime, it makes it a war. Do you know a war when innocent people didn't die?

brando | January 14, 2017

cozy with the Russians? That would be FDR and Churchill back in the 40s, right?

Exxon paid RT a mere $20,000 /hour in 2012. Yes, that is only $160,000 per day. google search for your self

J.T. | January 14, 2017

Successful people are the worst. Failures are a much better class of people.

RedShift | January 14, 2017

Define 'failures'. Does a person doing a menial job and not wanting to do more, and not having the skills to do more, a 'failure'?

Does a successful drug lord from the cocaine forests of South America qualify as a good person?

J.T. | January 14, 2017

@RedShift >>>>>Define failures.

Career politicians.:-)

drklain | January 14, 2017

J.T. -- Well said.

ParklandFLMike -- There is no question that innocents get killed in war, but to compare the U.S military to the Russian military is just plain foolish. We bend over backwards and place ourselves at even greater risk because the rules of engagement also mandate increased effort to decrease the risk of collateral damage.

Fighting an enemy who refuse to do battle on an open battlefield and instead choose to embed themselves within a civilian population means that is where the fighting takes place and it is the unfortunate civilians who suffer because of it. There are some US military personnel who have committed true war crimes (as defined by various international laws and treaties including the Geneva conventions), but to compare that to some of the actions the Russian military has conducted as a matter of policy (such as the airstrikes in Aleppo) does a disservice to US personnel who are doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties (including not taking the shot on occasions even if the target gets away).

RedShift | January 14, 2017

Without government, we would probably be in far worse position than otherwise. We need politicians, they are a necessary evil, like government.

However, this lab experiment with successful businessmen as public servants. Well, let's see how it plays out. Especially since they seem to want to be both. What perplexes me, is that they seem to think they can be both. These are clever people, one assumes. They didn't get to be somewhere by not being smart.

bigd | January 14, 2017

Redshift +1 What exactly do you mean by " Especially since they seem to want to be both. What perplexes me, is that they seem to think they can be both." ?

J.T. | January 15, 2017

@RedShift >>>>However, this lab experiment with successful businessmen as public servants. Well, let's see how it plays out.

We've already seen the results of this experiment with the likes of Washington, Franklin, Morris, Livingston, the Lee Family, Jefferson, Rutledge, Dickinson et al, all successful businessmen becoming public servants, they did a pretty good job and no one was concerned with conflicts of interest.

Remnant | January 15, 2017

@ParklandFLMike (January 14, 2017)

<< ... we are a bunch of hypocrites if we ignore how many civilians the US killed during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Whether it was intentional or by accident, a lot of innocent people died. >>

Your shameless, anti-American, "moral equivalency" outburst is a pathetic instance of politically driven "group think".

America's adversaries often hide behind or inside schools and hospitals, while our rules of engagement prevent our armed forces from executing their missions. Figures derived from such asymmetrical situations are not comparable across battle lines.

Silver2K | January 15, 2017

Politicians have been running the US since 1776. Now we decide they're bad? What we need is good politicians, not idiots that have no clue. The other nation's good politician will eat a non-politician's lunch.

J.T. | January 15, 2017

@Silver>>>>>Politicians have been running the US since 1776.

Substitute "rich white men" for "politicians". Now, what do you think about politicians?

Efontana | January 15, 2017

business is politics.

flight505 | January 15, 2017

Experience is a great teacher. Trump has no experience in politics. He also has a huge conflict of interest with his businesses. Why would he nominate Tilllerson? Elaine Chao for Transportation Secretary is another person with a huge conflict of interest, as is Rick Perry for Energy - he is directly tied to the big oil pipeline deal, so to hell with what is best for the American people.

Trump's policies echo another American President who said, “The chief business of the American people is business.”

The trouble is when a president is a businessman he has a vested interest in specific businesses, so how can he perform in the best interests of the American people?

A certain president from long ago cut taxes and limited government spending. He said no to U.S. membership in the League of Nations. He set high tariffs on imported goods to protect American industry. Less than a year after he left office the Great Depression hit.

Trump knows limited spending will sink the economy and he wants to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure. When Obama wanted to spend on infrastructure, Republicans recoiled and said hell no, the only good jobs are created by the private sector. But, one has to wonder what effect a trillion dollar infrastructure will be when taxes also get cut.

Trump also, I believe, wants to get rid of Dodd-Frank, a big mistake that could send us back down the road that led to the depression of 2008.

SCCRENDO | January 15, 2017

I love the way Trump gets defended. Instead of being able to highlight any positive qualities his whole campaign defense for his outrageous behavior was Hillary's email, Bill Clinton's women etc.. Now it becomes previous politicians did this, other countries did that. I guess we can always come up with Charles Manson did this etc. Does nobody want to wake up to the fact that Trump is an incompetent buffoon and most of us are nervous how much damage him and the Republicans will inflict on this country. They are at the point of throwing over 20 million people off medical insurance, getting into spats with China and Mexico, and removing all sanctions from Russia so they can restart all their business ventures. They are planning on drilling for oil in our national parks. They want to overturn abortion. Looks like our "savior" has arrived.


RedShift | January 15, 2017


"No one was concerned with conflicts of interest."

Well, now they are, primarily because the conflict exists in foreign dealings, not within the United States, or in friendly countries. The world is a much more complicated place and with Nuclear weapons too.

J.T. | January 15, 2017

@SCCRENDO I hear that a lot about the abortion issue, and perhaps I've been asleep, but I believe that Scalia was a very strong pro-life Justice. So, if the court wanted to overturn Roe v wade why didn't they do it while he was alive?
Is it because the Court can't simply overturn laws on a vote? Don't they need some sort of case to be appealed to them to challenge a woman's right to choose? And if it even came to that and the abortion laws were thrown back to the state won't there still be many states where abortion would be available? And, of course, I realize that it might be a hardship for some young woman to drive to an abortion state from her home state, what an effing nightmare, but perhaps that could be what we used to call a life lesson. You make a mistake, the correction to that mistake is inconvenient and perhaps you're more careful in the future.

What is so terrible about that?

flight505 | January 15, 2017

Excellent read. Maybe the damage has to be done to wake up the American people?

lilbean | January 15, 2017

I thought that's what just happened.

RedShift | January 15, 2017


Some of those women may not be able to even afford to drive that long and get an abortion hundreds of miles away. When you are working minimum wage, there are much fewer options.

Let's leave that aside. What happened to personal freedom and the constituionally guaranteed right to choose?

rxlawdude | January 15, 2017

JT, let's punish women even more by blocking their options.


SamO | January 15, 2017

I'd guess there are few men on this board who would suppport comparable treatment of men:

“Here’s something that I learned that is fascinating, and it’s this: Scientists have found that sperms cells smell,” Silverman said. “Like I know sperm smells, but sperm cells have the sense of smell, and you know what that means: Sperm is life. And you know what that means: We’ve gotta legislate that shit.”

Do you get where she’s going with this? You get where she’s going with this. But let’s go with her anyway. Silverman noted that multiple states still require women to look at an ultrasound of their fetuses before they make the final decision to go forward with their abortions. And if that’s the case, why don’t we have men do something similar whenever they are about to sexually relieve themselves?

“What we’ll do is — it’s a real simple procedure. We take a really long needle-like basically GoPro camera and we put it down your penis hole, urethra … then down into your testicular sack,” Silverman said. “We’re going to show you the ultrasound, so you can see the life in your balls.”

J.T. | January 15, 2017

@RedShift >>>>>What happened to personal freedom and the constituionally guaranteed right to choose?

What happened to personal responsibility? And, worry not, the Constitutional right to make horrible choices and yet pay no price for those choices will probably go on forever.

J.T. | January 15, 2017

@rxlawdude The point of my post is that nothing is going to happen to overturn Roe v Wade if it hasn't already happened. So, let's stop obsessing about that non-issue and turn our attention to the other bogeyman horrors that Trump is going to visit on the Republic and the world.

lilbean | January 15, 2017

I worked in reproductive endocrinology and it was heartbreaking to see the many women who lost their babies due to incompetent cervix. These women regretted their right to choose and didn't know any better. I understand JT's point of view.

rxlawdude | January 15, 2017

@JT, I think you are far too optimistic about the future direction of SCOTUS. As somewhat of a constitutional wonk, replacing Scalia is just the first step. If Stevens, Kennedy Breyer, or Ginsburg retire or pass away, the Court will be tilted so far Reich people like you will be very happy. Liberty and Justice? Maybe they won't be happy at all.

rxlawdude | January 15, 2017

@lil, for every woman you met with cervical incompetence due to abortion (I assume you're blaming abortion for all of these, when D&C is but one risk factor), there are 100 who are very thankful they did not have to carry an unwanted child into the world.

lilbean | January 15, 2017

The ladies that I met with incompetent cervix had abortions. I have also met ladies who are heartbroken after having abortions. I haven't spoken with any who are grateful for having an abortion. I'm sure they are out there though.

rxlawdude | January 15, 2017

I don't think any woman WANTS to terminate a pregnancy (rape and incest victims aside), but the point is that in a free society that respects the right to medical privacy, the CHOICE must be the woman's, and only the woman's. Not a bunch of old white men citing "right to life" while supporting the death penalty.