Trump picks Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, eyes Rick Perry for Energy Dept.

Donald Trump announced Exxon-Mobil Corp's Rex Tillerson as his choice for secretary of state and, according to sources, is expected to tap former Texas governor Rick Perry to lead the Energy Department. Congressman Ryan Zinke, a former Navy SEAL commander, will be interior secretary, according to media reports.

Congressman Ryan Zinke, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, reportedly being eyed for interior secretary

Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, seen here in 2014, has been nominated by U.S. president-elect Donald Trump as secretary of state. (LM Otero/Associated Press)

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump announced Exxon-Mobil Corp's Rex Tillerson as his choice for secretary of state on Tuesday and, according to sources, will tap former Texas governor Rick Perry to lead the Energy Department. 

Trump's transition team said Tillerson has experience as "an international deal-maker" with the world's largest energy company, but questions have been raised about his relations with Russia.

He will … help reverse years of misguided foreign policies.— Donald Trump, U.S. president-elect

"His tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice," Trump said in a statement released by his team. 

"He will … help reverse years of misguided foreign policies and actions that have weakened America's security and standing in the world." 

Tillerson said he shared Trump's "vision for restoring the credibility of the United States' foreign relations and advancing our country's national security."

'He has a very close relationship with Vladimir Putin.'— Senator John McCain 

Trump picked Tillerson, 64, after the Texan was backed by several Republican establishment figures including former secretary of state James Baker, former secretary of state Condoleeza Rice and former defence secretary Robert Gates, the transition official said.

Their support is seen as key to helping Tillerson get past a possibly contentious Senate confirmation battle likely to focus on his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In 2013, Putin bestowed a Russian state honour, the Order of Friendship, on Tillerson, citing his work "strengthening co-operation in the energy sector."

Trump appeared briefly in the Trump Tower lobby on Tuesday upon the arrival of rapper Kanye West. Trump was scheduled to hold a news conference about his cabinet picks and the management of his business empire, but said via Twitter it would be postponed until "the near future." 

An elevator door closes as former Texas governor Rick Perry arrives at Trump Tower on Monday. Perry is said to be Trump's nominee for energy secretary. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

Harsh critic

Perry met with the man he once called a "cancer on conservatism" on Monday at Trump Tower in New York.

The two-time presidential candidate was a harsh critic of Trump during the 2016 election race, but later endorsed him and said he'd be willing to work in a Trump administration.

During his first campaign, Perry vowed to abolish the department he is now apparently in line to run. 

While debating fellow Republicans in 2011, Perry said he would do away with three federal departments if elected president. He named education and commerce but was unable to remember the third, which he later said was the Department of Energy. 

The two people with knowledge of Trump's pick insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the decision ahead of the official announcement

Praise from Moscow

Meanwhile, lawmakers from both major parties have raised questions about Tillerson and former UN ambassador John Bolton, who has been mentioned as a possible number 2 State Department official and who has voiced hawkish views on Iraq and Iran.

Republicans and Democrats said Tillerson would be asked about his contacts with Russia, having met Putin several times. He won fresh praise from Moscow on Monday.

Senator John McCain of Arizona, a leading foreign policy voice and the 2008  Republican candidate for president, told Reuters in an interview: "I have concerns. It's very well known that he has a very close relationship with Vladimir Putin."

There has been controversy over the role alleged Russian cyber hacking may have had on the outcome of the Nov. 8 presidential election, in which Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Navy SEAL up for cabinet post: reports

Trump has picked first-term Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke of Montana, a former Navy SEAL commander, as his interior secretary, according to media reports.

Zinke, 55, has yet to accept the offer and has given no indication as to which way he is leaning, Politico reported, citing two transition officials and someone familiar with the offer.

The Washington Post, citing an individual with first-hand knowledge of the decision, also reported that Zinke had been tapped to lead the Interior Department.

With files from CBC News


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