Posted: 10:15 am PT
Posted: 10:15 am PT
Posted: 1:12 am ET
Secretary of State Designate Rex Tillerson appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today for his confirmation hearing. He was introduced by the senators from Texas, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. Former Senator Nunn and former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates also appeared to provide brief introductions before the hearing.
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 Washington. He 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;
(b) Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources;
(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.
Posted: 3:58 am ET
History.state.gov notes that Congress created the position of Deputy Secretary of State in the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1972, approved Jul 13, 1972 (Public Law 92-352; 86 Stat 490), to replace the Under Secretary of State as the second ranking officer in the Department. The Deputy Secretary (D) serves as the principal deputy, adviser, and alter ego to the Secretary of State; serves as Acting Secretary of State in the Secretary’s absence; and assists the Secretary in the formulation and conduct of U.S. foreign policy and in giving general supervision and direction to all elements of the Department. The Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources (D/MR) serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the Department. The D/MR also serves as principal adviser to the Secretary on overall supervision and direction of resource allocation and management activities of the Department as well as provides final recommendations to the Secretary on senior personnel appointments.
Lawrence Eagleburger is the only career diplomat ever appointed the top-ranking post in the US Cabinet. He became Secretary of State on December 8, 1992, and continued in that position until January 19, 1993 when Warren Christopher was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 20, 1993.
A former assistant secretary of state under President Bush told the NYT, “So much of the operational work is in the jurisdiction of the deputy and helps to have somebody who knows how the building works, and it will make the secretary more effective.” In the last 27 years, only three career diplomats were ever appointed Deputy Secretary of State: Lawrence Eagleburger, John Negroponte and William Burns. Note that both Rice and Clinton picked noncareer deputies at the first half of their tenures and then picked seasoned foreign service officers for the second half of their stints at State. Secretary Baker recognized the value of having a career diplomat as second in command and picked Eagleburger from the get go. Secretary Kerry could have picked a new deputy, but opted instead to keep career ambassador Bill Burns who was appointed deputy under Clinton.
Posted: 3:55 am ET
The last time we wrote about Joseph Cassidy (@cassidyjosephp) in this blog was when we picked the best lines from his “10 Ways to Fix America’s Ailing State Department” in July 2015. He served 25 years in the Foreign Service. He joined the Service in 1989 and previously served in Georgetown, Nairobi, Windhoek, OSCE, USUN and Baghdad. He also served at IO, DRL, the WH, and as Special Assistant to P, INR and the Executive Secretariat. He is currently a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The following is an excerpt from his recent FP/Argument piece; we added some gifs. Read in full here: How to Be a Loyal State Department Bureaucrat in the Trump Administration and Keep a Clear Conscience.
At the State Department, where Trump has nominated ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary, there is trepidation among career officers that a politicized workplace could force them to choose among their loyalties to the incoming president, the State Department as an institution, and national interests. Although career foreign service and civil service personnel are accustomed to operating amid layers of institutional equities, their primary loyalty must be to the Constitution — the subject of the oath, dating in its current form to 1884, that all employees swear.
To friends and former colleagues at State, particularly new officers who have not previously served through a change of administrations, here are a few suggestions regarding how to reconcile professional loyalties:
Seriously, read the full piece here: How to Be a Loyal State Department Bureaucrat in the Trump Administration and Keep a Clear Conscience.
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: http://bit.ly/2hAiUyB .
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 #Tillerson 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.
Posted: 1:11 am ET
Steve Coll writes in The New Yorker that Trump’s reported pick of Tillerson as Secretary of State is “astonishing on many levels.”
As an exercise of public diplomacy, it will certainly confirm the assumption of many people around the world that American power is best understood as a raw, neocolonial exercise in securing resources.
Compared to the records of some of the other people around Trump, Tillerson’s is at least one of professional integrity; Exxon is a ruthless and unusually aggressive corporation, but it is also rule-bound, has built up a relatively strong safety record, and has avoided problems such as prosecutions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, even though it operates in many countries that are rife with corruption.
In his career at ExxonMobil, Tillerson has no doubt honed many of the day-to-day skills that a Secretary of State must exercise: absorbing complex political analysis, evaluating foreign leaders, attending ceremonial events, and negotiating with friends and adversaries. Tillerson is a devotee of Abraham Lincoln, so perhaps he has privately harbored the ambition to transform himself into a true statesman, on behalf of all Americans. Yet it is hard to imagine, after four decades at ExxonMobil and a decade leading the corporation, how Tillerson will suddenly develop respect and affection for the American diplomatic service he will now lead, or embrace a vision of America’s place in the world that promotes ideals for their own sake, emphatically privileging national interests over private ones.
Read in full here. Steve Coll is the author of the book on ExxonMobil, excerpt below courtesy of Kindle Preview:
Posted: 3:20 am ET
John Bolton is reportedly the front-runner to be deputy secretary of state if Rex Tillerman is selected as secretary of state. According to Brian Urquhart’s 2008 piece, One Angry Man, this is not the first time that Bolton has aspired to be deputy secretary of state.
“At the outset of the second Bush term, the new secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, asked Bolton what job might interest him in the new term. Bolton’s mention of his interest in being deputy secretary of state was received with no enthusiasm, and two months later, in March 2005, Rice announced his nomination as ambassador to the UN, thus appointing to this unique post the US official most publicly contemptuous of the world organization. Bolton’s long and abrasive confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were, in his own words, not so much about the UN or his opinions, but about “whether I was a nice person, thereby inviting every person in government whom I had ever defeated in a policy battle, of whom there were many, to turn the issue into one of personal disparagement….” Even though Republicans held a majority at the time, his confirmation failed by four votes in the Senate. The President finally announced his recess appointment on August 1, 2005.”
Prior to his assignment in the UN, Bolton was Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security from May 2001 to May 2005. So with the exception of the top position, there are only two other jobs that he could potentially be interested in — the Deputy Secretary (D) position, or the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources (DMR).
On Saturday, Rex Tillerson made news when NBC News reported that Trump was expected to name the Exxon CEO as secretary of state (see Trump Expected to Name Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State; ‘Stop Rex’ Petition Already Up). During a Sunday morning show, Reince Priebus did say that the secretary of state pick was not a “done deal.”
In an interview with Fox News’ Eric Shawn on Sunday, John Bolton also made news when he talked about the Russian hack, false flag, and the Obama administration. Text below via TPM:
BOLTON: It’s not at all clear to me just viewing this from the outside that this hacking into the DNC and the RNC computers was not a false flag operation. Let’s remember what FBI director James Comey said dealing with Hillary’s home brew server. He said we found no direct evidence of foreign intelligence service penetration, but given the nature of this, we didn’t expect to. Meaning, a really sophisticated foreign intelligence service would not leave any cyber fingerprints. And yet people say they did leave cyber fingerprints in the hacks regarding our election. So the question that has to be asked is why did the Russians run their smart intelligence service against Hillary’s server but their dumb intelligence services against the election —
SHAWN: When you say false flag, that’s a very serious charge. False flag by whom? Here is “The Washington post.” The Post reported the CIA has concluded individuals with close ties to the Russian government hacked the e-mails. Intelligence officials have determined that Russia’s goal was to help trump win rather than simply undermine confidence in the election. Are you actually accusing someone here in this administration of trying — in the intelligence community of trying to throw something?
BOLTON: We just don’t know, but I believe that intelligence has been politicized in the Obama administration to a very significant degree.
Here’s a clip:
A couple of old clips down the John Bolton memory lane:
One writer called “his obsession with the United Nations is as serious as Ted Haggard’s with sin.” After he announced his resignation as U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in December 2006, the Heritage Foundation released In Their Own Words: Ambassador Bolton’s Record of Effectiveness at the U.N., a collection of quotes from media clips, senators, foreign officials and a few fans. Here he is with one of his greatest hits talking about the United Nations.
And then here’s Senator Rand Paul who sits in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and says John Bolton “should get nowhere close” to the State Department.
Posted: 12:52 am ET
On Sunday, the Trump Transition says that “ There will be no announcements on Secretary of State until next week at the earliest.” Even as unnamed sources continue to tell members of the press that Tillerson is the pick, Reince Priebus who is slated to become President-elect Trump’s chief of staff cautioned that it’s a “little premature to be claiming” the secretary of state choice for the incoming Trump administration is a “done deal.” So until the official announcement is made, which could happen tomorrow or on Friday or whenever is the season finale, it may still be open season for the secretary of state candidates.
The secretary of state nomination has to go through a confirmation hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC). That’s a 10 GOP/9 Dems split. GOP Members include Senators Marco Rubio, Jeff Flake, and Rand Paul. If the nomination makes it out of the SFRC, it has to go through a full vote in the Senate. The 115th Congress includes 46 Democratic Senators, 2 Independents, and 52 Republican Senators. A simple majority vote is required to get confirmation. So the Senators. Don’t forget them, particularly the Republican Senators. Makes one wonder if the leak on Tillerson as pick is a trial balloon to see what kind of reception the nomination is going to get, and what the potential confirmation fight might look like in the Senate. Also, add this to your SOS candidate trivia. Rex Tillerson’s salary in 2015 is reportedly $27.2 million. The secretary of state’s annual salary in 2015 is $203,700.
Reactions to the potential Tillerson appointment:
Posted: 12:08 pm PT
Updated: 1:15 pm PT
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports that Donald Trump is expected to nominate Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, citing two sources close to the transition process. The announcement is likely to happen next week, but the sources cautioned that nothing is final until the president-elect officially announces the pick. As secretary of state, Tillerson would be fourth in line to the presidency. The report also says that Tillerson will be paired with former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as his deputy secretary of state for day-to-day management of the department, one source added.
350.org, a movement focusing on the challenge of the climate crisis called Trump’s nominee Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection, a “Puppet of the fossil fuel industry.” And it already has a petition online opposing the potential appointment of Rex Tillerson to the State Department: “This Cabinet pick might be one of the worst yet (and that’s saying something). Exxon is the largest oil company in the world. It has funded climate misinformation for decades and violated human rights across the planet. … If Exxon takes control of the State Department, they can undo all the climate progress we’ve made at the international level. They’ll be able to wield the Department as an arm of the fossil fuel industry, opening up new oil and gas development around the world and crushing dissent.”
After news broke that Tillerson is Trump’s pick, 350.org released a new “Stop Rex” campaign banner and a statement saying “Tillerson may be a friend of Putin’s, but he’s no friend of the planet” and promised to pressure “Senators to turn the confirmation process into a hearing on ExxonMobil’s history of climate deception.”
Here is a sobering read related to ExxonMobil, Tillerson and the Rockefeller Family Fund’s divestment from fossil fuels:
“[O]ur organization, the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF), announced that it would divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies. We mean to do this gradually, but in a public statement we singled out ExxonMobil for immediate divestment because of its “morally reprehensible conduct.”1 For over a quarter-century the company tried to deceive policymakers and the public about the realities of climate change, protecting its profits at the cost of immense damage to life on this planet. Our criticism carries a certain historical irony. John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil, and ExxonMobil is Standard Oil’s largest direct descendant. In a sense we were turning against the company where most of the Rockefeller family’s wealth was created.”
Read more below. Click here for RFF’s divestment statement.
More clips to read:
Here are a couple of speeches Tillerson did at The Economic Club and CFR and a sit down with Charlie Rose: