The false narrative about Tillerson's Exxon deal with Russia

Washington Examiner:
Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson's reputed friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin is "a completely false narrative" that shouldn't hurt his nomination, according to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

"I think it's a mistake to think that because Rex Tillerson successfully did business in Russia that he's best friends with Vladimir Putin," Gates told PBS' Charlie Rose on Thursday. "I think that's just a completely false narrative."

Gates, who served under President Obama and George W. Bush and is now a partner in a consulting firm that advises ExxonMobil, first recommended Tillerson for the Cabinet position after President-elect Trump failed to settle on a secretary of state nominee. The Exxon Mobil consultant argued that his client's history of negotiating international energy deals and his history with the Boy Scouts of America would render him a tough and capable defender of American interests and values.
Tillerson might resist endorsing future sanctions, if Gates' assessment of his policy views is correct. The former defense secretary said that Tillerson had lobbied against energy sanctions not just because they interfered with Exxon Mobil's energy deal with Russia, but also because Tillerson thinks those sanctions were ineffective.

"I haven't had long conversations with Rex about that, but I suspect it was both," Gates said. "I mean, he was looking out for Exxon's interests and it was informed by his view of what works and what doesn't work. But I think, I think that once Rex Tillerson lifts his hand to take the oath of office, his only objective is going to be to do what is in the best interest of the United States."
I have done legal work on several large transactions and can't think of a one of them that was consummated because of friendship.  They are usually hard nose negotiations where both sides have competing interests and issues that must be resolved to make the deal work.  If you are successful, you get a deal that both sides can live with and will be hopefully mutually beneficial.

It should be noted that while Tillerson did not think the sanctions against Russia would work, he did not whine about and his company complied with the sanctions regime.  There was no attempt to try to evade them or try to make a public fight about them.  I do not think that Congress should be worried about his loyalty.


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