President-elect Donald Trump has picked as his secretary of state Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil, according to a senior official on the transition team.
Tillerson has worked extensively around the globe and built relationships with such leaders as Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Tillerson’s nomination could face intense scrutiny in the Senate, considering his years of work in Russia and the Middle East on behalf of the multinational petroleum company. GOP advisers have warned that a growing number of Republican senators may be unwilling to vote to confirm Tillerson because of his ties to Russia.
Mr. Romney, Mr. Petraeus and Mr. Corker — the three leading runners-up for the diplomatic posts — all received calls late Monday informing them of Mr. Trump’s decision, according to people familiar with the president-elect’s final choice.
Mr. Trump teased his imminent announcement of Mr. Tillerson on Monday night on Twitter, saying that “I will be making my announcement on the next Secretary of State tomorrow morning.”
He settled on Mr. Tillerson, a deal maker who has spent the past four decades at Exxon, much of it in search of oil and gas agreements in troubled parts of the world. A native of Wichita Falls, Tex., who speaks with a strong Texas twang, Mr. Tillerson, 64, runs a company with operations in about 50 countries, cutting deals to expand business in Venezuela, Qatar, Kurdistan and elsewhere.
If confirmed as secretary of state, Mr. Tillerson would face a new challenge: nurturing alliances around the world that are built less on deals and more on diplomacy.