Who Will Be Acting Secretary of State Pending Rex Tillerson’s Confirmation? (Updated)

Posted: 1:11 pm ET
Updated: 5:26 pm PT | New clips added

 

WaPo reported that Republicans want most Trump Cabinet confirmation votes to occur on Inauguration Day. However, Democratic senators reportedly are planning to aggressively target eight of Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees in the coming weeks and are pushing to stretch their confirmation votes into March. WaPo notes that this would be “an unprecedented break with Senate tradition.”  The targeted nominees include Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State.

The third Secretary of State Timothy Pickering initially served as Acting Secretary of State from August 20, 1795 to December 10, 1795 under President George WashingtonHe was appointed as ad interim Secretary of State on August 20, 1795, and elevated to the position of Secretary of State on December 10, 1795.  It was one of the longest stints in an acting capacity for the State Department.

Since then, several individuals have served as Acting Secretary of State ranging in tenure from a couple of days to a couple of months. Career diplomat Lawrence Eagleburger served in an acting capacity from August 23, 1992 to December 8, 1992 under President G.H.W. Bush.  Michael Armacost also served in an acting capacity for six days in 1989 under President G.H. W. Bush while Walter J. Stoessel Jr served from July 5-16, 1982 under President Reagan.  More recently, however, the appointment in an acting capacity spans no more than a few days.  Frank G. Wisner served one day as Acting Secretary of State in January 20, 1993 under President Clinton.  Before Warren Christopher was appointed 63rd Secretary of State, he was previously appointed Acting Secretary of State for five days in May 1980 under President Carter.  During the transition from Bush to Obama in 2009, career diplomat William Joseph Burns served as Acting Secretary of State from January 20-21, 2009.

Secretary Kerry and his two deputies (Tony Blinken and Heather Higginbottom) are all political appointees who are expected to depart their posts by January 20. Of the six under secretary positions, two have incumbent political appointees (Sarah Sewall, Catherine A. Novelli) who are also expected to step down on or before Inauguration Day, two have acting incumbents who are career diplomats (Thomas Countryman, D. Bruce Wharton) and the remaining two are career diplomats, the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. and the Under Secretary for Management, Patrick F. Kennedy.

We’ve asked the State Department who will be designated as Acting Secretary of State in the event that Mr. Tillerson does not get confirmation immediately after inauguration day. The State Department directed us to Executive Order 13251 of December 28, 2001 which designates the order of succession for the agency. Based on this E.O., if the Senate drags the confirmation of Mr. Tillerson for months, the State Department will have the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. as Acting Secretary of State until such time when the Senate can confirm the 69th Secretary of State. In the event that Ambassador Shannon is not able to, the next in line is the Under Secretary for Management, Patrick F. Kennedy.

Sec. 2. Order of Succession.
(a) Deputy Secretary of State; (Blinken)

(b) Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources; (Higginbottom)

(c) Under Secretary of State designated for political affairs pursuant to section 2651a(b) of title 22, United States Code; (Shannon)

(d) Under Secretary of State designated for management affairs pursuant to section 2651a(b) of title 22, United States Code; (Kennedy)

(e) The remaining Under Secretaries of State, in the order in which they shall have taken the oath of office as such; (Thomas Countryman, D. Bruce Wharton)

(f) Assistant Secretaries of State designated for regional bureaus pursuant to section 2651a(c) of title 22, United States Code, in the order in which they shall have taken the oath of office as such

Executive Order 13251 rules out the appointment of anyone who are in an acting capacity saying that “No individual who has not been appointed by the President by and with the consent of the Senate shall act as Secretary pursuant to this order.” It also says that “Notwithstanding the provisions of this order, the President retains discretion, to the extent permitted by the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, 5 U.S.C. 3345 et seq., to depart from this order in designating an acting Secretary.”

 

Two clips to read on Rex Tillerson, one concerning his tax returns, and another from an individual who served on a jury duty with him in Texas.

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Trump Makes It Official — ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to the State Department, What’s Next?

Posted: 11:02 am PT

 

On December 13, President-elect Trump announced his intent to nominate Rex Tillerson, the Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, to serve as Secretary of State. Below is the Trump Transition statement:

Among the most accomplished business leaders and international dealmakers in the world, Mr. Tillerson has spent his career protecting the jobs of his employees, who number more than 70,000. Guiding operations around the world that include more than 200 offices, Mr. Tillerson knows how to manage a global organization and successfully navigate the complex architecture of world affairs and diverse foreign leaders. As Secretary of State, he will be a forceful and clear-eyed advocate for America’s vital national interests, and help reverse years of misguided foreign policies and actions that have weakened America’s security and standing in the world. The American people will once again have a world-class leader working on their behalf, enhancing the prospects for peace and prosperity among nations.

“Rex Tillerson’s career is 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,” said President-elect Donald J. Trump. “His tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for Secretary of State. 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. I can think of no one more prepared, and no one more dedicated, to serve as Secretary of State at this critical time in our history.”

“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,” said Mr. Tillerson. “We must focus on strengthening our alliances, pursuing shared national interests and enhancing the strength, security and sovereignty of the United States.”

Rex Tillerson is a native Texan who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He began his career at Exxon Company, U.S.A. in 1975 as a production engineer.

After years of hard work and dedication to his company, Rex then became general manager of Exxon Company, U.S.A.’s central production division, responsible for oil and gas production operations throughout a large portion of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas.

In 1992, Mr. Tillerson was named production advisor to Exxon Corporation. Three years later he was named president of Exxon Yemen Inc. and Esso Exploration and Production Khorat Inc., and in January 1998, he was promoted to vice president of Exxon Ventures (CIS) Inc. and president of Exxon Neftegas Limited. In those roles, he was responsible for Exxon’s holdings in Russia and the Caspian Sea as well as the Sakhalin I consortium operations offshore Sakhalin Island, Russia.

In December 1999, he became executive vice president of Exxon Mobil Development Company. Mr. Tillerson was then named senior vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation in August 2001, and was elected president of the corporation and member of the board of directors on March 1, 2004. Nearly two years after he was elected, Mr. Tillerson was named as chairman and CEO of the board on January 1, 2006.

Mr. Tillerson is not only a stalwart in his professional life, but also in the community. He is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and a trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is the vice chairman of the Ford’s Theatre Society and a recipient of the Lincoln Medal; immediate past national president of the Boy Scouts of America, a Distinguished Eagle Scout, and a former director of the United Negro College Fund. He was recognized as a distinguished alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin in 2006, and in 2013, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

The Senate Foreign Relation Committee is a GOP 10/Dem 9 split, the full Senate is a 52 GOP/48 Dem split. A senator can put a hold on a nomination.  If two GOP Senators flip, VP Pence can cast the deciding vote and still confirm the nominee.  Since a simple majority is all that’s needed, three GOP Senators could also flip and sink this nomination. A nomination can also be killed in committee, but that does not look likely here. The SFRC Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN)who was on Trump’s short-list for Secretary of State has said that Tillerson is “a very impressive individual.” After the selection was announced, Senator Corker tweeted, “I congratulate Mr. Tillerson on his nomination and look forward to meeting with him and chairing his confirmation hearing.”  We suspect that the confirmation hearing would occur the day after the Trump inauguration.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who sits in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and who says “I am a no on John Bolton…” reportedly told a radio show that he is “reserving judgment” on the Tillerson nomination. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who also sits in the SFRC tweeted “The fact that Condi Rice, James Baker and Bob Gates are recommending Tillerson carries considerable weight. I look forward to the hearings.” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), also an SFRC member said, “While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination.”  He released a statement here: .

There are “concerns” but no hard “no” at this time. It doesn’t hurt that former Secretary of State Condi Rice, and former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates of RiceHadleyGates have great things to say about the nominee.

According to the Constitution Center, there were five presidential cabinet nominations that were rejected by the Senate. The last two occurred within the last sixty years — one in 1959 for the commerce secretary nomination and the second one in 1989 for the defense secretary nomination:

In 1959, President Dwight Eisenhower nominated Admiral Lewis Strauss as commerce secretary. The Democrats controlled more than 60 Senate seats and Strauss lost in a contentious nomination process by just four votes.

The fight between the Senate and its former member, John Tower, in 1989 was historic in many ways. Tower had headed the Senate Armed Services Committee until he retired in 1985. President Bush had nominated Tower as defense secretary.

The public debate over Tower’s nomination included a lot of mudslinging, and Tower lost the vote along party lines in the Democrat-controlled Senate. He was the only former Senate member rejected for a cabinet position by the Senate in its history. Dick Cheney was later approved in Tower’s place.

For Senators contemplating sinking the Tillerson nomination, the next question to ask might be, “then what?” Could Trump’s next move after a Tillerson rejection be the nomination of John Bolton as Secretary of State? That is totally possible. And after sinking one cabinet nomination, it is conceivable that a GOP Senate would not want another contentious confirmation. Rejecting the Tillerson nomination would almost assure the confirmation of John Bolton or whoever Trump puts forward in response.

The Financial Times’ Ed Crooks said that conventional wisdom has tagged Rex as “pro-Russia” but that it is probably more accurate to say he’s been pro-Exxon.  Well, his responsibilities were to the Exxon shareholders. Tillerson was once asked by Charlie Rose“… whether it’s Alaska or offshore or wherever it might be, is your philosophy “drill, baby, drill”? Here is Tillerson’s response talking about opportunities and risks:

No, my philosophy is to make money. And so if I can drill, and make money, then that’s what I want to do. But it really is for us it’s about making quality investments for our shareholders. And it’s not a quality investment if you cannot manage the risk around it. And so part of that decision to undertake whether it’s a drilling program or an investment program in some other country, we have to have a very good understanding of what risk are we dealing with, how are we going to manage those. Because you may have a fabulous opportunity but if you manage the risk poorly, you’ve cost yourself not only that opportunity but you’ve probably cost yourself a lot of others.

The bigger question probably is what happens to Tillerson’s huge financial interest in Exxon if he gets confirmed as Secretary of State. This is  something the Senators should be interested in. Of course, they were also interested with conflict of interest or the appearance of it related to the Clinton Foundation leading to then Senator Clinton’s confirmation in 2009 and they voted 94-2.

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More on Trump’s Taiwan Call Plus Video Clips From Secretary of State Candidates #suspense

Posted: 2:07 am ET

 

A view from Taiwan, a Trump-Tsai Ing-wen tag team, watch:

Now for the auditions, with some exciting clips below:

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69th Secretary of State Race: New Names Include Stavridis, Huntsman, Tillerson, Manchin #dazzle&wow

Posted: 12:58 ET

 

In addition to the new names floated today, Politico is reporting that “whoever ultimately gets the top job at the State Department, multiple Trump transition sources said former United Nations ambassador John Bolton is widely expected to be offered a chance to be slotted in as one of the secretary’s top deputies, if not as the No. 2.”  Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., is reportedly also likely to be offered a lower post in the State Department, according to unnamed Politico sources.  Also as has been reported previously, Giuliani has told the Trump team directly that he isn’t interested in any other job than secretary of state.  As of this writing, Predictit still has Romney leading the pack, followed by Huntsman, Giuliani, Corker, Bolton, Petraeus, Rohrabacher, Tillerson and Manchin.

Howaboutthisguy? He razzle dazzle, hey? This is pretty doable for the 8th Floor, right?

The Funnies, not funnies over on Twitter:

69th Secretary of State Watch: The Prediction Market, Who’s Up, Who’s Down? Who’s at Trump Tower?

Posted: 1:53 am ET

 

CBS News is reporting today that the “battle” to become President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state appears to be down to three men: former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney and former CIA Director David Petraeus.  CBS News’ Major Garrett reported Tuesday morning that Giuliani is still the likeliest pick — but that as Mr. Trump meets with Romney over dinner in Midtown Manhattan tonight, it’s hard to discount Romney as a top pick as well.  “I’m told that Giuliani is still the leading candidate but this dinner with Romney tonight … does add to the atmospheric drama around this whole process,” Garrett said on CBSN.

These are exactly the top three names over at the prediction market with Romney leading at $0.41 now since we did the screen grab below, followed by Giuliani at $.0.26, and Petraeus at $0.12. 

Top tier names on predictit breaking above 1¢:

predictita

Lower tier names on predictit not breaking above 1¢:

predictitb

 

See the SoS predictit page here.

In any case, somebody apparently told Representative Dana Rorahbacher that he is under consideration as secretary of state. He released the following statement for folks who wanted to cast their votes over at the Breitbart News poll.

danar_soslist

Link to poll below where 146,450 people apparently voted on who should be the next secretary of state. They picked somebody else!

Meanwhile, Rudy, Rudy, Rudy, is still in the running.

And then, the Petraeus crashed Rudy’s party.

President-elect Trump also had dinner at a French restaurant with Mitt Romney and there’s a photo!  Somewhere is this photo is an invisible word cloud that says “GOTCHA!”  Looks like DJT is so tickled, he might just announced his secretary of state before the season finale.

Nooooo, it’s not Fabio.

And it’s not Mr. Large Wooden Stick. Stopit.

Da end. Until the next update.

 

Related posts:

Previously

 

 

69th Secretary of State Watch: Giuliani Gets Dinged, Bolton Writes an OpEd, Paul Spikes Transition Ball

Posted: 2:47 am ET

 

The other most mentioned name, John Bolton now calls for major NATO and UN reforms, and took to the pages of the NYPost to prescribe what Trump needs to do with Iran.

Meanwhile, Senator Rand Paul who sits in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) came out early and quickly to register disapproval over the potential nomination of John Bolton or Rudy Giuliani.

The Senate can approve or reject a nomination. A majority of Senators present and voting, a quorum being present, is required to approve a nomination. Read more here (PDF).

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Who’s Going to be the 69th Secretary of State? The Rudy Chatter Gets Louder

Posted: 4:13 am ET

 

Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani is reported to be Trump’s favorite to be secretary of state.  A senior Trump official told the AP that “there’s no real competition for the job” and that “it’s the former New York mayor’s if he wants it.” Giuliani has already taken himself out of the running as attorney general in Trump’s administration at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council event in Washington on November 14.

The former UN ambassador John Bolton is reportedly still in the running, but we remember who was publicly thanked by the president-elect during his election night speech, and it wasn’t John Bolton.

Newt Gingrich who has already ruled himself out of the running as secretary of state also told Fox News, “I think it would be fabulous to have [Rudy Giuliani] as Secretary of State.”

Something to remember here. In late 2011, when Gingrich was talking about running for president, he  publicly said he would appoint Ambassador Bolton as his secretary of state. In January 2012, Ambassador Bolton announced his endorsement of Mitt Romney on Fox News. He called Romney “the person who can best lead the party, best articulate our conservative principles, and is most likely to beat Barack Obama.” See The Newtster’s Pick for Secretary of State Endorses the Mittster.  Also Who Will be Secretary of State in January 2017? Giuliani and Bolton Reported as Front RunnersWho will be Secretary of State on Jan. 31, 2017?

 

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