*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
There has been an appropriate amount of concern and criticism around depraved Donald Trump’s predilection to corrupt business practices he can’t resist bringing to the White House. Part of that corruption is nominating a close confidante, ally, and friend of Russian president Vladimir Putin who also runs a giant oil company the Kremlin wants desperately to do business with. If Trump’s proposed secretary of state was involved in any industry other than big oil, his friendship with Putin would likely destroy his chances of ever winning Senate confirmation, but Republicans exist to serve the needs of the oil industry.
However, now a leaked document containing 1.3 million files reveals that Trump’s choice for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, not only runs ExxonMobil, he is also the director of a Russian oil company registered in the Bahamas, a secretive tax haven.
The Guardian revealed that the leaked document was given to a German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, by an anonymous source. The ExxonMobil chief executive has been a director of the oil company’s Russian subsidiary, Exxon Neftegas, since 1998 and his name appears with other corporate officers based in Moscow, and Sakhalin, in Russia’s far east. What that means is that Trump nominated an American-born, Russian businessman to be the nation’s top diplomat who will be looking out for Russia’s interests, not America’s. Of course it is troubling, but not surprising after learning that Trump’s path to the White House was made possible by Russian espionage under direction of oil-hungry Vladimir Putin.
Many of Tillerson’s detractors say he is far too cozy with Russia’s tyrannical president, and it is an apropos concern regarding the obvious and very real conflicts of interest. This is particularly true since the non-Russian oil company Tillerson oversees (ExxonMobil) lusts to get involved in Russia’s oil and gas development that will monumentally increase the worth of Tillerson’s current $218 million in Exxon stock. There is already sufficient evidence that Tillerson has benefitted from his close relationship to Putin, as well as the second most powerful man in the Kremlin, Igor Sechin. Sechin is ex-KGB and the head of the official Russian state oil company Rosneft. In fact, Vladimir Putin awarded Tillerson the Russian Order of Friendship medal directly following a deal between Tillerson and Sechin to explore and exploit Russia’s Arctic oil; exploration and exploitation that will enrich Putin, Sechin, and of course Rex Tillerson.
However, that special deal suffered a serious setback when President Obama “imposed wide-ranging sanctions against Russia” for Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea and Russia’s “shadow” invasion and war against Ukraine. Those sanctions infuriated Rex Tillerson as much as they did Vladimir Putin and it drove Tillerson mad enough to demand that sanctions were immediately lifted to help Russia, and Tillerson’s portfolio. Although Tillerson has had to wait longer than his BFF Putin wanted, ExxonMobil’s investors are celebrating that Putin-puppet Trump will lift the sanctions. Trump did, by the way, condone Putin’s aggressive imperialism and hinted that if he is president, the Russian dictator will be able to proceed unimpeded by Trump’s “great America” that is unwilling to honor its NATO commitments as remuneration to Russia for aiding his campaign for the White House.
There is nothing whatsoever good or appropriate about Tillerson as possible secretary of state, and this new revelation makes his nomination all the more unacceptable. In fact, Trump nominating Tillerson epitomizes everything corrupt about Trump and leads one to seriously believe that Tillerson was chosen to be the United States of America’s secretary of state by Vladimir Putin. There is no other reasonable explanation except that Trump took into account who as secretary of state would be most agreeable to Vladimir Putin’s interests.
Coupled with Trump’s glowing praise for Russian “policy positions” under a tyrannical dictator and his indebtedness to Putin, and Russian oligarchs, for installing him as America’s president, the only reason a Russian oil executive was nominated as America’s secretary of state is to benefit Russia, Vladimir Putin and Rex Tillerson’s stock portfolio; America or its national security interests never figured in the equation. It is precisely what one expects from a hostile power allowed to appoint America’s president and who nominates members of Trump’s cabinet.
Although some Republicans have expressed reservations about a Putin ally and confidante as secretary of state, their reservations will be overshadowed by their devotion to the oil industry and dependency on “big oil” money to stay in office. It is that devotion that should depress any hopes that even one Republican will oppose Tillerson’s confirmation despite he is running a Russian oil company and concealed that fact in a Bahamian tax haven.