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It's official: Donald Trump taps Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state

Exxon Mobil chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

President-elect Donald Trump announced early Tuesday that he has officially nominated Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state in his administration.

In a statement released by Trump's transition team Tuesday, the president-elect praised Tillerson as "the embodiment of the American dream."

"Through hard work, dedication and smart deal making, Rex rose through the ranks to become CEO of ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest and most respected companies," Trump said.

He went on to explain his reasoning behind choosing Tillerson over other candidates like Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, saying that Tillerson's "tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics" makes him the best choice possible to become American's next top diplomat.

"He will promote regional stability and focus on the core national security interests of the United States. Rex knows how to manage a global enterprise, which is crucial to running a successful State Department, and his relationships with leaders all over the world are second to none," Trump said.

Trump also confirmed the news on Twitter Tuesday morning:

Tillerson, 64, has worked with Exxon for more than 40 years, rising through the company's ranks from engineer to CEO in 2006, where he has been credited with expanding and growing the business with major deals.

"I am honored by President-elect Trump's nomination and share his vision for restoring the credibility of the United States’ foreign relations and advancing our country’s national security," Tillerson said in the statement released by the transition team.

"We must focus on strengthening our alliances, pursuing shared national interests and enhancing the strength, security and sovereignty of the United States," he added.

Still, Tillerson's confirmation process in the Senate is likely to be one filled with many roadblocks, as many critics have already raised concerns about his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

More from The Hill:

According to The Wall Street Journal, Tillerson negotiated an energy partnership with Putin in 2011 that the Russian president said could be worth $500 billion.

The following year, Tillerson received the Russian Order of Friendship, one of the highest awards the country bestows upon foreign nationals.

Reuters reported earlier this year that the Exxon Mobil deal with Russia had been put on hold due to sanctions levied against the Kremlin for its annexation of Crimea in 2014. The company has said it intends to resume the deal after sanctions are lifted — a process that Tillerson could help expedite as secretary of State.

And with the Washington Post late last week reporting on a secret CIA assessment that discovered that Russia did, indeed, tamper with the U.S. presidential election in order to aid Trump, Tillerson's ties to Russia even have a few prominent Senate Republicans speaking out.

Both Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) expressed concern over the weekend about Tillerson and his ties to Russia.

But, according to Politico, Tillerson does have respect in the diplomatic community because of his extensive dealings with other foreign governments.

Politico reports that Tillerson came heavily recommended to Trump from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who served under former President George W. Bush, and former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, who served under both Bush and President Barack Obama.

Despite concerns, Tillerson is expected to make it through his confirmation process. Though, it would only take a small faction of Republicans to block his nomination. If that were to happen, it would be the first time since 1989 that a presidential Cabinet nominee was denied confirmation.

One last thing…
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