President-Elect Donald Trump added two more people to significant positions on December 13th. Both follow in Trump’s footsteps of big business with billions of dollars under management.
Trump picked Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State, the role currently held by John Kerry and formerly held by Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump was also considering Former Republican nominee Mitt Romney, Ret. General David Petraeus, and Congressman Bob Corker for the role.
David Parish, a public affairs representative for Exxon Mobil who served from 1988 to 2006, and worked with three Exxon CEO’s, had this to say about Tillerson’s appointment.
I watched in person as Tillerson himself delivered a hard-hitting speech at a major Russian oil and gas conference in London in which he held no punches in criticizing Russia’s most senior government leadership for the political morass which was holding up huge energy projects. The speech was met with outrage by senior Russian officials for his blunt and honest criticism. He told it like it was, and they didn’t like it.
Russia at the time was on the verge of yet another political and economic collapse due to its bureaucracy, corruption and political chaos. Without getting its house in order, Tillerson told the Russians, the country risked losing tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment from companies like his that Russia desperately needed to lift its economy, energy industry and environmental practices up to modern global standards.
What does Secretary of State have to do with Russian oil? Well, a few responsibilities of the position include:
With Tillerson filling the Secretary of State role , our country has a leader who packs punching power with negotiation. Kerry and Clinton did not have such finesse and many would argue that they represented our country poorly at the negotiating table. Tillerson has a great understanding of Russia, the Middle East, and even Latin America due to his extensive operations in the oil industry and his understanding of how different cultures will approach make deals.
Trump named his other large pick today for similar reasons, picking Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn to be director of National Economic Council.
Trump had this to say about Cohn.
“As my top economic advisor, Gary Cohn is going to put his talents as a highly successful businessman to work for the American people,” Trump said in a news release. “He will help craft economic policies that will grow wages for our workers, stop the exodus of jobs overseas and create many great new opportunities for Americans who have been struggling.”
In light of Donald Trump’s campaigning for 18 months to “drain the swamp”, the pick for Cohn is hard to stomach. Because it looks like cronyism, one billionaire helping another billionaire. It also might leave a bitter taste in the mouth of many an American, as the 2007-08 financial crisis was only 9 years ago, and Goldman Sachs was a big recipient of a TARP Money. US citizens went broke, while CEOs got golden parachutes.
The new Secretary of State does not look like nearly as bad of a deal; Rex Tillerson has extensive business successes, and yet many Congressman on both sides of the aisle are saying Tillerson’s ties to Putin raise concerns. However, Donald Trump’s opinion on that is Tillerson ‘already knows the big players’. While it certainly is good to cast an eye on a new Secretary of State’s relationships, there was a lot less noise with former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s ties to Russia.