President-elect Donald Trump has named Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, as his preference for the next US Secretary of State. Mr Trump chose Mr Tillerson despite criticisms about his connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin. This raised concerns at a time when US intelligence agencies determined that Russia had launched a cyber campaign to undermine Mr Trump’s Democratic rival for the US presidency, Hillary Clinton. The ExxonMobil CEO is yet to be confirmed for the role. His nomination must be approved by the Foreign Relations Committee, which is composed of 19 US Senators; ten Republicans and nine Democrats.
Approval of his nomination could be blocked by Marco Rubio alone, one of the ten Republican Senators (and Mr Trump’s former presidential campaign rival), who has been critical of the nomination. Mr Rubio said, “I have serious concerns about his nomination… The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, is free of potential conflicts of interest, [and] has a clear sense of America’s interests“. If all nine Democrats vote against Mr Tillerson, they would only need one of the Republican’s ten Senators to join them to successfully prevent his nomination moving to a vote in the full Senate.