Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tillerson added to Trump's Troika

The NY Times reports that Rex Tillerson, Exxon C.E.O., Chosen as Secretary of State by Donald Trump. Tillerson’s long relation with Russia and its leaders, particularly Vladimir Putin, is likely to trigger a contentious confirmation hearing in the US Senate. But the thing is: if Congress is unwilling to take on Trump’s obvious conflicts of interest, why should they be any more willing to take issue with a nominee for Secretary of State who has strong corporate and personal investment in a foreign power? If Trump won’t divest, why should Tillerson? If Trump won’t reveal his finances via his tax returns, why should Tillerson be any more disclosing? The anti-ethics of the coming administration, I am afraid, will keep trickling down. Here is some from the Times.

… President-elect Donald J. Trump on Tuesday officially selected Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, to be his secretary of state. In saying he will nominate Mr. Tillerson, the president-elect is dismissing bipartisan concerns the globe-trotting leader of an energy giant has a too-cozy relationship with Vladimir V. Putin, the president of Russia.

A statement from Mr. Trump’s transition office early Tuesday brought to an end his public and chaotic deliberations over the nation’s top diplomat — a process that at times veered from rewarding Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of his most loyal supporters, to musing about whether Mitt Romney, one of his most vicious critics, might be forgiven.

Instead, Mr. Trump has decided to risk what looks to be a bruising confirmation fight in the Senate.

In the past several days, Republican and Democratic lawmakers had warned that Mr. Tillerson would face intense scrutiny over his two-decade relationship with Russia, which awarded him its Order of Friendship in 2013, and with Mr. Putin.

The hearings will also put a focus on Exxon Mobil’s business dealings with Moscow. The company has billions of dollars in oil contracts that can go forward only if the United States lifts sanctions against Russia, and Mr. Tillerson’s stake in Russia’s energy industry could create a very blurry line between his interests as an oilman and his role as America’s leading diplomat.

Mr. Tillerson has been publicly skeptical about the sanctions, which have halted some of Exxon Mobil’s biggest projects in Russia, including an agreement with the state oil company to explore and pump in Siberia that could be worth tens of billions of dollars.

Tillerson’s nomination is just part of a very bad story. AZBlueMeanie provides more evidence of the Trump tilt toward Russia, Putin’s pal Donald Trump at odds with the intelligence agencies and Republicans in Congress. Trump has elected to engage in open political warfare against our own intelligence agencies.

Asked whether he’s rejecting valuable intelligence on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump was defiant.

“I get it when I need it,” he said of the top-secret briefings sessions, adding that he’s leaving it up to the briefers to decide when a development represents a “change” big enough to notify him.

“I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years,” Trump said.

No, Trump prefers to get “fake news” intel briefings from his hand=picked national security adviser, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Flynn under fire for fake news: Flynn has used social media to promote a series of outrageous conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and their inner circles in recent months — pushing dubious factoids at least 16 times since Aug. 9, according to a POLITICO review of his Twitter posts

Flynn has traveled to Russia as a private citizen for RT, the Russian state-controlled news operation, and attended a dinner with Vladimir Putin.

Today fellow traveler in conspiracy theories, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton — who is reportedly in line to be Trump’s pick for deputy secretary of state — actually asserted that the Russian hacking of the U.S. election is a “false flag” operation from the Obama administration. John Bolton’s ‘false flag’ conspiracy theory about the CIA and Russia fits a clear pattern for him.

It’s obvious what is in all this for Tillerson and Exxon Mobil. What’s in it for Putin? A free hand for military adventuring in NATO countries? Our allies should be very worried.

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