Bernie Sanders Isn't Putting Up With Rex Tillerson

by Alexandra Spychalsky

Since Donald Trump announced that his pick for secretary of state would be Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, there has been vociferous outcry from both sides of the aisle. Among the critics was Sen. Bernie Sanders, who responded to Tillerson's nomination in exactly the way you'd expect — namely, with dismay.

After much deliberation and rampant speculation on who would fill arguably the most prestigious cabinet position, Trump revealed that he would name Tillerson as his secretary of state. After allegedly considering the likes of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Gen. David Petraeus, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the role, Trump settled on the oil industry CEO, who has worked for Exxon Mobil for more than 40 years and has zero diplomatic experience. In his statement on Tuesday, the former contender for the Democratic presidential nomination echoed many of the criticisms that have been made by fellow lawmakers about Tillerson in recent days:

Mr. Trump's nomination of Rex Tillerson for secretary of state is sending a very troubling message to the international community. Not only is Mr. Tillerson a pal of Russia's authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, but he is the head of one of the largest oil companies in the world. In this appointment, Mr. Trump is making it abundantly clear that the short-term profits of the fossil fuel industry are more important than climate change and the future of the planet. Very sad. Very dangerous. Mr. Tillerson must be opposed.

Sanders pointed to Tillerson's background in the oil industry as a potential conflict to climate change progress, and to his ties with Vladimir Putin and Russia as troubling for America's future in global politics.

On Fox News Sunday, Trump described Tillerson as a "world-class player," and said that his relationships with international figures through his years of work with Exxon Mobil make him a perfect choice for the job. Along with his lack of diplomatic experience, much has been made about Tillerson's ties with Russia. He has worked with Russia on numerous business deals, and Putin awarded him the "Order of Friendship," the country's highest civilian honor, in 2013.

Tillerson will still need to be confirmed by the Senate. In the incoming Congress, Republicans will hold the Senate majority, but with a slim 52 seats. But leading Republicans, like John McCain, Marco Rubio, and Lindsey Graham, have also raised their eyebrows about the pick. With Sanders as far from his only critic, Tillerson doesn't exactly have an ironclad future in Trump's administration.