With Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson apparently headed to the Senate for confirmation as Donald Trump’s secretary of state, the president-elect’s cabinet is falling into categories like “big money donors,” “hardliners” and those who have a nice, cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia. With Trump now routinely rejecting the conclusions of the intelligence community (or simply refusing to hear from them), his picks are a recipe for disaster.
We certainly have to ask the hard questions about Tillerson’s relationship with Putin. Word of his selection comes as a CIA assessment concludes Russia intervened in the November election to help Trump win. The hacking of Democratic emails and the drip, drip, drip of information damaging to Hillary Clinton was designed to ensure Trump was elected according to the CIA.
From Politico: As the Wall Street Journal puts it, “Among those considered for the post, Mr. Tillerson has perhaps the closest ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin,” adding that, in 2012, Putin personally bestowed Russia’s Order of Friendship on Tillerson.
It’s hard to imagine Tillerson publicly chiding Putin today because he is now so very dependent on that friendship. In 2011, he negotiated a multi-billion-dollar deal between Exxon Mobil and Rosneft, the Russian state oil giant cobbled out of Khodorkovsky’s seized empire and run by Putin’s former KGB buddy, Igor Sechin. The deal would have allowed Exxon access to the Russian Arctic shelf—which, according to U.S. government estimates, is thought to contain some 22 perceont of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas deposits—in exchange for helping Rosneft, which didn’t have the technological capabilities, drill for the stuff.
In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine, seized the Crimean peninsula, and started an insurgency in eastern Ukraine, triggering a wave of American and European sanctions. But that summer, Tillerson thought it best to stay away from the St. Petersburg Economic Forum and instead sent his deputy, who, acting on behalf of Exxon Mobil, signed another energy deal with Rosneft and Sechin, who had ended up under sanctions.
Linda McMahon’s appointment as the head of the Small Business Administration is curious at best. She plunked down $6 million-plus to Rebuild America Now, a pro-Trump super PAC. There is no question she has succeeded in business albeit a business built on objectification of women, drug use and early death of its employees.
Trump’s choice for treasury secretary, Goldman Sachs alum Steve Mnuchin contributed $430,000 to Trump’s campaign, He is just one of the cabinet picks who has a distinct animosity toward the agency they’ve been tapped to lead.
Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross appears headed to the commerce department. He gave more than $317,000 to Trump or Trump-related fundraisers. Fast-food magnate (Carl’s Jr. Hardees), misogynist, minimum-wage hater and union antagonist Andrew Puzder ponied up more than $500,000 and is Trump’s choice for labor secretary.
Betsy DeVos, soon to be nominated the education department, has no experience in education. She is, however, a billionaire who has shown an animus toward public education.
Perhaps the worst cabinet pick and the one that should be defeated by the Senate, is EPA nominee Scott Pruitt. He is a climate change denier and has in fact, sued the EPA. Environmentalists (including this one) shudder at the thought of this anti-environment nut heading the agency that is supposed to protect the environment.