Rex Tillerson

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Rex Wayne Tillerson, a.k.a. "Wayne Tracker"[1] (1952–) has a bachelor's degree in engineering and began his career at Exxon in 1975 as a production engineer. He rose through the ranks, becoming president of Exxon Yemen Inc. and Esso Exploration and Production Khorat Inc. in 1975, then becoming CEO of ExxonMobil (2006-2016).[2] In 2017, he became the 69th Secretary of State of the United States, serving one of the shortest tenures of any United States Secretary of State.


Exxon (later ExxonMobil) has known since at least 1977 that global warming from fossil fuels could be an issue. By 1981, Exxon was "already factoring climate change into decisions about new fossil fuel extraction". In 1995, there was an internal Exxon report that unequivocally stated that "burning the companies' products was causing climate ch and that the relevant science 'is well established and cannot be denied.'"[3][4]

Nonetheless, ExxonMobil (including Tillerson himself) has publicly cast doubt on anthropogenic climate change, and the science behind it in what amounts to a coverup.[5] ExxonMobil has funded climate change-denialist think tanks, including during Tillerson's tenure as CEO.[5][6][7] Also during Tillerson's tenure, ExxonMobil was sued in 2016 for allegedly misleading shareholders on climate change (People of the State of New York v PricewaterhouseCoopers and Exxon Mobil Corporation).[8]

In 2013, Tillerson received the Order of FriendshipWikipedia (Орден Дружбы) from Vladimir Putin for his "big contribution to developing cooperation in the energy sector."[9] The award preceded the 2014 sanctions against Russia because of Russian intervention in the Ukraine,[10] and has since been tainted by both the deteriorating US relationship with Russia, and the US Treasury Department's $2 million fine against ExxonMobil for violation of the sanctions against Russia beginning in 2014.[11]

Boy Scouts of America[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Boy Scouts of America

From 2010 to April 30, 2012, Tillerson was also the national president of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Tillerson left the BSA a few months before they were forced to release 20,000 pages of documentation on known child sexual abuse cases within the organization.[12] During Tillerson's tenure, the BSA had a policy of mandatory reporting of sexual abuse to authorities, but kept silent about past abuses and the large amount of records they had.[13]

Secretary of State[edit]

He is a contender for worst Secretary of State in history. He was also virtually irrelevant in crafting policy. He will be most known for his disdain of U.S. diplomacy. In a period of economic expansion he set about gutting a department that had already suffered under six years of austerity. His disastrous ‘reorg’ has proved a lie to the notion that government should be run like a business. In his brief tenure [he] has found a way to inflict lasting damage to the diplomatic corps and U.S. diplomacy.
—Max Bergmann, Senior Fellow at Center for American Progress and former State Department staff[14]

Tillerson, though a long-time financial supporter of Republican political campaigns, was not an early supporter of Trump and gave no money at all to the 2016 Trump campaign.[15]

Tillerson's first year in office as Secretary of State has been marked by a combination of official impotence[16] and an unprecedented evisceration of the State Department.[17] It would appear that Trump nominated Tillerson, not for his diplomatic experience (he had none) but rather as a show of power (being the boss of one of the world's largest corporations). Tillerson was largely a figurehead since Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner repeatedly conducted foreign policy without Tillerson's awareness.[18]

Tillerson has repeatedly had to face direct contradictions or belittlings from Trump of virtually every attempt of his public diplomacy:

  • Climate change: Despite being involved in climate change denialism at ExxonMobil, Tillerson has supported the US staying in the Paris climate accordWikipedia and has also supported a carbon tax (although probably just to quash the possibility of cap-and-trade).[19] Trump announced on June 1, 2017 that the US would withdraw from all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.[20]
  • Middle East: Trump named his son-in-law, Jared Kushner (who not only has no diplomatic experience whatsoever, but none of his team has any experience either,[21] and Kushner has an overt pro-Israel bias),[22] as a White House envoy to jump-start Middle East peace. Tillerson has been kept in the dark about Kushner's activities[23] and has caused a rift between the two with regard to the Saudi Arabia-Qatar dispute.[24]
  • North Korea: While Tillerson has made repeated diplomatic overtures toward North Korea, he has been repeatedly and publicly contradicted by Trump,[25] forcing Tillerson to correct himself.[26]
  • Russia: Tillerson's and Trump's views on Russia are not obviously contradictory. In 2014 while speaking to ExxonMobil shareholders, Tillerson opposed sanctions against Russia in principle, alleging that sanctions are ineffective because they're hard to implement comprehensively.[27] But what Tillerson was actually saying to shareholders was that they would lose money from sanctions because ExxonMobil had just inked huge business deals with Russia starting in 2012.[28] In 2017, Trump reluctantly and angrily signed into law a bill that added additional sanctions against Russia for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[29] Trump claimed that the law was partly unconstitutional but then said that the administration would implement the law in full.[29] The Trump administration only released a guidance document for the law after significant goading from Congress.[29]

Perhaps frustrated at being constantly undermined by his boss, or perhaps the penny finally dropped, Tillerson reportedly got to the front of the line[33] in October 2017 and called Trump a "moron".[34]

Due to the sanctions passed under Obama and Trump, Exxon Mobile canceled whatever Tillerson-era deals they had with Russia, formally withdrawing from any attempt to drill in the Arctic like they wanted. Rex is all alone now. [35]

On March 13, 2018, Trump got tired of abusing Tillerson and gave him the coup de grâce by firing him via tweet.[36] Tillerson is not known to even have a Twitter account.[37]


  1. The State Department Drama Shows Just How Far Trump Will Go for Big Oil: In this White House, the most dangerous industry on earth has a stranglehold on U.S. foreign policy by Basav Sen (March 25, 2018) Common Dreams.
  2. Rex Tillerson to Retire, Darren Woods Elected Chairman, CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation (Dec 14, 2016 — 03:00 p.m. EST) ExxonMobil.
  3. The Climate Deception Dossiers (July 9, 2015 update) Union of Concerned Scientists
  4. Deception Dossiers: All Documents Union of Concerned Scientists
  5. 5.0 5.1 Still Disinforming: ExxonMobil’s Continued Culpability in Climate Denial (May 2016) Union of Concerned Scientists.
  6. New files shed light on ExxonMobil’s efforts to undermine climate science: Executives privately sought to downplay link between fossil fuels and climate change despite public pronouncements, WSJ reports by Dharna Noor (14 Sep 2023 14.03 EDT) The Guardian.
  7. Inside Exxon’s Strategy to Downplay Climate Change: Internal documents show what the oil giant said publicly was very different from how it approached the issue privately in the Tillerson era by Christopher M. Matthews & Collin Eaton (Sept. 14, 2023 5:30 am ET) The Wall Street Journal.
  8. Tillerson's email alias was prompted by business needs, Exxon says by Ernest Scheyder (March 14, 2017 / 3:17 PM) Reuters.
  9. Meeting with energy company heads: Vladimir Putin took part in a round table at the Energy Club Summit: Reshaping Global Oil Markets, which took place as part of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. (June 21, 2013; 14:45) President of Russia.
  10. See the Wikipedia article on International sanctions during the Ukrainian crisis.
  11. The strange legal battle that is pitting Trump’s secretaries of the Treasury and State against each other by Damian Paletta and Carol Morello (July 20, 2017) The Washington Post.
  12. Boy Scouts child abuse files: Can the organization withstand their release? In recent years, the Boy Scouts of America has implemented many new guidelines to protect against new abuse. Even though morale inside the BSA remains high, some experts say the group is fighting a losing battle. by Gloria Goodale, (October 18, 2012) Christian Science Monitor.
  13. We Were Abused as Boy Scouts. Why Didn’t Rex Tillerson Speak Out? As Boy Scout president, Tillerson never apologized for the abuse of thousands of boys by scoutmasters and volunteers. I was one of those children. by Matt Stewart (01.11.17 1:13 AM ET) The Daily Beast.
  14. Tillerson is put out of his misery by Jennifer Rubin (March 13, 2018 at 9:39 AM) The Washington Post.
  15. Rex Tillerson: Political Campaign Contributions, 2016 Election Cycle (2017)
  16. Truth In Satire: Tillerson, In Scathing Resignation Letter, Quits Before Trump Can Fire Him. Secretary of State slams beleaguered president in withering missive as he exits revolving door of doomed administration by Allan Ishac (December 1, 2017) Medium.
  17. The State of Trump's State Department: Anxiety and listless days as a foreign-policy bureaucracy confronts the possibility of radical change Julia Ioffe (Mar 1, 2017) The Atlantic.
  18. Rex Tillerson vents about Jared Kushner’s secret dealings with foreign leaders by John Hudson & Josh Dawsey (June 27, 2019 at 2:42 PM) The Washington Post.
  19. Tillerson Led Exxon’s Shift on Climate Change; Some Say 'It Was All P.R.' by John Schwartz (Dec. 28, 2016) The New York Times (archived from December 27, 2017).
  20. See the Wikipedia article on United States withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.
  21. SABAN Forum 2017: "America First" and the Middle East, A Keynote Conversation With Jared Kushner discussion between Jared Kushner and Haim Saban (December 3, 2017) The Brookings Institute.
  22. Jared Kushner Failed to Disclose He Led a Foundation Funding Illegal Israeli Settlements Before U.N. Vote by Chris Riotta (12/3/17 at 6:00 AM) Newsweek.
  23. Kushner Is Leaving Tillerson in the Dark on Middle East Talks, Sources Say by Nick Wadhams & Erik Schatzker (December 1, 2017, 3:27 PM PST; Updated on December 2, 2017, 6:24 AM PST) Bloomberg.
  24. Kushner's foreign policy gamble fuels Tillerson feud by Elise Labott and Gloria Borger (Updated 5:20 PM ET, Mon December 4, 2017) CNN.
  25. White House Corrects Tillerson on Whether U.S. Will Talk to North Korea by Mark Landler (Dec. 13, 2017) The New York Times (archived from December 15, 2017).
  26. Tillerson, in Apparent U-Turn, Says North Korea Must 'Earn' Its Way to Talks by Somini Sengupta (Dec. 15, 2017) The New York Times (archived from December 23, 2017).
  27. How Exxon CEO Tillerson feels about sanctions (and other Secretary-related matters) by Jon Prior (Dec 6, 2016, 2:36pm CST Updated Dec 6, 2016, 12:51pm) Dallas Business Journal.
  28. Exxon, Rosneft unveil $500 billion offshore venture by Douglas Busvine &Vladimir Soldatkin] (April 18, 2012 / 8:24 AM) Reuters.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 Timeline of Trump's delays on Russia sanctions by Conor Finnegan (Oct 27, 2017, 12:25 PM ET) ABC News.
  30. Trump’s Secretary of State Favorite Rex Tillerson Praised TPP. Like many members of the incoming Trump administration, Trump’s possible secretary of state pick heaped praise on TPP while it was still cool. by Betsy Woodruff (12.12.16 11:47 AM ET) The Daily Beast.
  31. Mr. Exxon Goes to Washington (Maybe) by Liam Denning (Dec 7, 2016 10:34 AM EST ) Bloomberg.
  32. Trump's TPP withdrawal: 5 things to know by Eric Bradner (Updated 2:52 PM ET, Mon January 23, 2017) CNN.
  33. An "Idiot" and a "Dope": McMaster Reportedly Unloads on Trump During a Private Dinner: That would make the National Security Adviser the second member of Trump's Cabinet to covertly question his intelligence. by Tina Nguyen (November 20, 2017 6:38 pm) Vanity Fair.
  34. Tensions escalate after Tillerson calls Trump 'moron' by Kaitlan Collins et al. (Updated 8:07 AM ET, Thu October 5, 2017) CNN.
  36. Rex Tillerson found out he was fired as secretary of State from President Donald Trump's tweet by Dan Mangan (March 13, 2018) CNBC.
  37. All Accounts Trump Twitter Archive