Reuters reports that one of Donald Trump’s potential cabinet picks has earned praise from an unlikely source: Russia. Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson is currently the frontrunner to serve as Trump’s Secretary of State and the move has garnered a positive reaction from the Kremlin.
Alexey Pushkov, a Russian lawmaker known for his support of Vladimir Putin, called Tillerson “a sensation.”
‘The choice of Tillerson is a sensation. This is a businessmen[sic], by definition a pragmatist, who also has lots of experience working with Russia.’
A spokesperson for the Russian president confirmed that, in his capacity as head of Exxon Mobil, Tillerson had met with Putin several times.
‘As part of his duties as head of one of the biggest oil companies, he had contacts with our representatives. He carries out his duties in a highly professional way.
‘They had working meetings. Indeed, the president received Mr. Tillerson several times’
Tillerson’s closest ties to Russia come through one of Putin’s chief supporters, oil oligarch Igor Sechin. The two first met in 1998 when they worked together on Sakhalin 1, an off-shore oil platform in the Pacific. Tillerson’s relationship with Russia has grown stronger over the years and in 2013 Putin even awarded him with the Order of Friendship.
Trump himself took to Twitter to praise Tillerson calling him a “world-class player.”
‘Whether I choose him or not for “State”- Rex Tillerson, the Chairman & CEO of ExxonMobil, is a world class player and dealmaker. Stay tuned!’
Whether I choose him or not for "State"- Rex Tillerson, the Chairman & CEO of ExxonMobil, is a world class player and dealmaker. Stay tuned!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2016
That being said, not everyone is too thrilled with Trump’s choice of Secretary of State. In a separate article, Reuters reported that lawmakers from both parties were opposed to the Tillerson pick.
Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey went so far as to call the Tillerson pick “alarming and absurd.”
‘Reports that Rex Tillerson could be nominated to be our nation’s top diplomat (are) alarming and absurd. With Rex Tillerson as our secretary of state the Trump administration would be guaranteeing Russia has a willing accomplice in the president’s cabinet guiding our nation’s foreign policy.’
Even members of Trump’s own party are opposed to the pick. Senator John McCain(R-AZ) warned that Tillerson’s close ties to Putin could lead him to underestimate the “Russian threat.”
‘It’s a matter of concern to me that he has such a close personal relationship with Vladimir Putin and obviously they’ve done enormous deals together. That would color his approach to Vladimir Putin and the Russian threat’
Senator Marco Rubio(R-FL) also spoke out against nominating a “friend of Vladimir” to lead the State Department.
‘Being a “friend of Vladimir” is not an attribute I am hoping for from a
#SecretaryOfState – MR’
Being a "friend of Vladimir" is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #SecretaryOfState – MR
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) December 11, 2016
Trump has not made his final decision regarding who will serve as Secretary of State, but Tillerson is currently considered the top contender. Whether or not fears of Russia will be enough to persuade Trump to reconsider remains to be seen.
Featured image via Getty Images.