President-elect Donald Trump is moving closer to nominating Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, following a private meeting with the business leader.
That’s according to several people who have spoken with Trump and his transition team.
Trump has privately signalled to associates that he plans to tap Tillerson for the powerful Cabinet post, but had not formally offered him the job as of Saturday afternoon. Some advisers worry that Tillerson’s ties to Russia would lead to a contentious Senate confirmation hearing and keep alive questions about Trump’s own relationship with Moscow.
The people who have spoken with Trump and his transition team insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly disclose the internal deliberations.
Trump announced Friday that Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who was an early favourite, was no longer under consideration.
Trump was also partaking on Saturday in one of the most storied football rivalries in the U.S., saluting U.S. troops at the annual Army-Navy game.
Trump’s pick to lead the State Department is among his most significant decisions and the deliberations have become a source of tension within his transition team, with chief of staff Reince Priebus said to be backing Mitt Romney while other advisers oppose the idea of selecting the 2012 GOP nominee, given his fierce criticism of Trump during the campaign.
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In addition to Romney, Trump has also been considering Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker and John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Trump’s appearance at the football game was capping off a week of rolling out Cabinet picks, holding “thank you” rallies in North Carolina, Iowa and Michigan, and trying to cement his incoming Senate majority with Saturday’s runoff election in Louisiana.
The incoming president appeared jovial and relaxed as he plunged back into electoral politics on Friday, a full month after he won the presidency. He held large-scale events in Louisiana and in Michigan, where he regaled supporters in Grand Rapids by reciting his victories in battleground states.
Trump is the first Republican to win Michigan since George H.W. Bush in 1988. He attributed his feat to failures by Democrats.
In private, people close to Trump said he was expected to name yet another Goldman Sachs executive to his White House team. The president-elect’s National Economic Council is to be led by Gary Cohn, president and chief operating officer of the Wall Street bank, which Trump repeatedly complained during the election campaign would control Hillary Clinton if she won.