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Summary

  1. President-elect Donald Trump picked Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson for secretary of state
  2. Several senators who will decide on the nomination voiced concerns about the oilman's Kremlin links
  3. Rick Perry is tipped to become energy secretary and Kanye West surfaced at Trump Tower in New York

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Trump's transition drama

That's our live coverage wrapped up after another action-packed few hours on the Trump transition beat. The president-elect confirmed his appointment of Rex Tillerson for US secretary of state, but a lukewarm reaction from several senators suggests the oilman could be in for a tough job interview at his Capitol Hill confirmation hearing. 

Meanwhile, Rick Perry is reportedly to be appointed energy secretary. 

And as if that wasn't enough excitement, Kanye West materialised at Trump Tower, alongside the president-elect. 

Who needs soap operas?

Trump Tower
AP
Trump Tower, scene of drama

Oil change? - Tillerson's climate change record

Matt McGrath

Environment correspondent, BBC News, Paris

President-elect Trump has finally nominated someone to his cabinet who actually believes in climate change science.  

However, this true believer happens to be CEO of Exxon Mobil, and also sees fossil fuels as critical to humanity's survival.  

"For many years, Exxon Mobil has held the view that the risks of climate change are serious and do warrant action. We believe that addressing the risk of climate change is a global issue," during the Exxon Mobil Annual General Meeting last May.

"We got to have some technology breakthroughs," Mr Tillerson said during the meeting in Dallas, Texas.

"Just saying turn the taps off is not acceptable to humanity."

"The reality is there is no alternative energy source known on the planet or available to us today to replace the pervasiveness of fossil fuels in our global economy, in our very quality of life, and I would go beyond that and say our very survival," he thundered inside the conference hall.

Read more about Tillerson's record on climate change

How Senate confirmation works

Here’s how Tillerson's confirmation process will play out. He'll be questioned by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which could vote to advance his nomination to a Senate floor vote, or not to take action, effectively rejecting it. 

The panel will vote to report the nomination to the chamber favourably, unfavourably or without recommendation. 

The Senate floor's vote would require a simple majority. Filibusters are not an issue because Democrats amended the chamber’s rules three years ago to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for most nominations, except Supreme Court picks.

Exxon Mobil CEO and Chairman Rex Tillerson speaks as he and other top oil and gas industry executives testify during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on "Oil and Gas Tax Incentives and Rising Energy Prices" on Capitol Hill in Washington May 12, 2011
AP
Rex Tillerson testifies on Capitol Hill in May 2011

Senate leader's thumbs up

McConnell
Getty Images
McConnell's endorsement could influence other Senate Republicans to support Tillerson's nomination

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has issued a statement on Trump's secretary of state pick saying: "I look forward to supporting his nomination.

"Rex Tillerson’s decades of experience have been widely recognized for forward-looking strategic planning, managing international partnerships and risk, and focused leadership around the world."

On Monday the influential Kentucky senator announced a congressional inquiry into alleged Russian interference in November's US election, saying "the Russians are not our friends".

Greenpeace: 'Desperate'

The environmental group has issued a statement accusing Tillerson of having "hid climate science" in order to "cash in on disaster".

"This appointment is a desperate grab for power by a failing industry that is perfectly fine bringing the American people down with it," they write.

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Other environmental organisations, such as the Sierra Club, issued their own critical statements about the choice for America's top diplomat. 

"Trump’s cabinet represents a who’s who of climate-deniers and fossil fuel hacks," they said in a statement.

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Russian MP: 'Sensational'

A Russian MP who poked fun at the US after a gunman shot dead 12 people at a US Navy complex three years ago has praised Trump’s pick of Tillerson.

Alexey Pushkov tweeted: "Selecting Tillerson - sensational. This businessman, by definition, a pragmatist, but still with a lot of experience with Russia. Trump continues to amaze."

He followed up: "McCain, Rubio & Co - opponents of Trump. Hence their efforts to disrupt the appointment of Tillerson plays in his favour. And Trump is not easily frightened."

In 2013, Pushkov tweeted that "nobody's even surprised anymore" by mass shootings after the massacre at Navy Yard in Washington DC, which he called "a clear confirmation of American exceptionalism".

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Cheney on Tillerson: 'Inspiring choice'

Dick Cheney, former US vice-president to President George W Bush, called Trump's pick for secretary of state "an inspiring choice" and "a personal friend".

"He has the vast experience, ability and judgement to deal with the very dangerous world we find confronting us," he wrote about the Exxon CEO.

"I'm confident that he will do a superb job promoting our national interests in dealing with the complex and difficult choice that are on the agenda for the next administration."

Cheney
Getty Images
Cheney's statue is unveiled during a dedication ceremony at the Senate.
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Inauguration blues?

Mark Savage

Music reporter

Ted Nugent, Kid Rock and Billy Ray Cyrus
Getty Images
Ted Nugent, Kid Rock and Billy Ray Cyrus are some of the musicians who have spoken in support of Mr Trump

When President Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009, he was serenaded by Beyonce and Aretha Franklin.

During his stay in the White House, he's had audiences with the likes of Rihanna, James Taylor and Kendrick Lamar.

Donald Trump might not be so lucky.

According to US media, Trump is having difficulty attracting A-list stars, despite reportedly offering to pay some of them.

Grammy-winner John Legend, who has been a guest of the Obamas several times, says he is "not surprised at all".  

"Creative people tend to reject bigotry and hate," the entertainer told the BBC.  

Read more about what musicians have said about Trump

Book club buddies?

Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead on display.
Getty Images

Trump and Tillerson reportedly share a love of the works of Ayn Rand, a Russian-American novelist often touted by libertarians and those favouring laissez-faire capitalism.   

Earlier this year, Trump said he was a fan of the author and that he identified with Howard Roark, the main character in The Fountainhead, her 1943 novel.

"It relates to business, beauty, life and inner emotions. That book relates to… everything", he told USA Today in April.

Tillerson once listed his favourite book as Rand's 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, which Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has referenced throughout his career. 

Why is Atlas Shrugged so popular?

Senate's Russia hawks sharpen talons

Marco Rubio is far from the only senator to have been critical of Tillerson.

On Sunday, Arizona Senator John McCain said: "It’s a matter of concern to me that he has such a close personal relationship with Vladimir Putin."

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has been tweeting...

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Senators John McCain (L) and Lindsey Graham
AP
Senators John McCain (L) and Lindsey Graham

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford's spokesman has said his boss is "not ready to vote for Rex Tillerson".

However, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, who was also considered for secretary of state, has called Tillerson a "very impressive individual".

And his fellow committee member, Jeff Flake, seem to regard it almost as a done deal:

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Rick Perry is back

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry.
AP

Trump is expected to announce that his secretary of energy will be Rick Perry, who could not even remember the name of the department during his infamous "oops" moment at a 2011 Republican primary debate. 

In a cringe-inducing brain freeze, the former Texas Governor had explained on the podium that he would get rid of three agencies if elected president, but found himself unable to recall the energy department. 

Several months ago Perry was a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. Now he’ll lead a government agency that manages America’s nuclear weapons.

Wonder if he still wants to axe the department...

'Oops': Rick Perry's debate disaster

Kanye to the Tower

Trump and Kanye
Pool

Trump appeared with Kanye West outside the lifts at Trump Tower a moment ago.

The president-elect said of the rapper: "We've been friends for a long time."

West had previously said he would mount a presidential campaign in 2020, but didn't respond to reporters' questions today about his political future.

"I just want to take a picture right now," he told media, flashing a rare smile.

"You take care of yourself. See you soon," Trump told the hip hop star, clapping him on the shoulder.  

After the election, West told fans during a concert that he did not vote, but if he did he would have cast his ballot for Trump, calling him a "genius".

US media reaction

Fox News: "Trump has done it again. Bang. Another fascinating, deep, insightful choice - Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State... What is the take-away from this savvy appointment?  A new professionalism is in the air - and it’s about time. Whatever friction he may encounter in the wind tunnel of change, he is likely to do well, and bring a perspective not often seen in the Capitol."

New York Times: "The Trump administration will have to be able to evaluate objectively Mr Putin’s agenda and lead Nato in standing up against his aggression, while allowing for cooperation where possible. In naming Mr Tillerson to lead the State Department and having Lt Gen Michael Flynn as his national security adviser, Mr Trump will have filled two top national security posts with pro-Russia apologists."

Red State: "An intriguing choice, but an odd one for Trump, at least from the perspective of the screaming angry fans we've all come to know over the last year who go on soapbox diatribes about the evil forces of corporatism and globalism and global corporations and things on the globe and, well, you get the picture."

Washington Post: "As he has made clear over and over again, Trump simply see no rules or, if he does see them, he chooses not to acknowledge that he is governed by them. He likes Tillerson. Tillerson is a titan of industry. That's all Trump needs. But, for all of Trump's flouting of the established political order, he can't totally ignore it. After all, Tillerson - and almost all of the rest of Trump's Cabinet - needs to be approved by the Senate. And, in Tillerson's case, there are already signs of dissent among Republicans."    

Newspaper stand
iStock
Newspaper stand

Tillerson: 'I'm very close to Putin'

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, right, and Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil"s chief executive.
AP

Tillerson described his relationship with Putin to a group of students at his alma mater, University of Texas, in February, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“I have a very close relationship with” Putin, he said. 

“I don’t agree with everything he’s doing. I don’t agree with everything a lot of leaders are doing. But he understands that I am a businessman. And I have invested a lot of money, our company has invested a lot of money, in Russia, very successfully.”

'A global champion'

Former Defence Secretary Robert Gates said he would "strongly endorse" Tillerson.

Full disclosure: The former Pentagon boss acknowledged Exxon is a client of RiceHadleyGates, a Washington DC-based consultancy run by one Robert Gates and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was also fulsome in her praise of Tillerson.

Gates said: "He (Tillerson) would bring to the position vast knowledge, experience and success in dealing with dozens of governments and leaders in every corner of the world. He is a person of great integrity whose only goal in office would be to protect and advance the interests of the United States. I know this Eagle Scout will be a global champion of the best values of our country."

Robert Gates
AP
Robert Gates

Trump: 'Embodiment of American dream'

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson is seen through the viewfinder of a television camera
AP
Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson is seen through the viewfinder of a television camera

Here's Trump's statement on Tillerson: "He will be a forceful and clear-eyed advocate for America's vital national interests, and help reverse years of misguided foreign policies and actions that have weakened America's security and standing in the world.

"Rex Tillerson’s career is the embodiment of the American dream. Through hard work, dedication and smart deal making, Rex rose through the ranks to become CEO of ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest and most respected companies. His tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for Secretary of State. 

"He will promote regional stability and focus on the core national security interests of the United States. Rex knows how to manage a global enterprise, which is crucial to running a successful State Department, and his relationships with leaders all over the world are second to none."

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Rubio: 'Serious concerns'

We mentioned earlier that Tillerson could be in for a grilling on Capitol Hill. Here's Senator Marco Rubio, who serves on this foreign relations committee, which has jurisdiction over the secretary of state nomination:

"While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination. The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, is free of potential conflicts of interest, has a clear sense of America’s interests, and will be a forceful advocate for America’s foreign policy goals to the president, within the administration, and on the world stage. I look forward to learning more about his record and his views. I will do my part to ensure he receives a full and fair but also thorough hearing."

Marco Rubio
AP
Marco Rubio
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Five interesting things about Tillerson

  1. He has spent his entire career, more than 40 years, working for Exxon, joining the company as a University of Texas, Austin, graduate and working his way up to the top job in 2006
  2. He has made more than $240m just in the past decade as Exxon CEO and would take a hefty pay cut in his new job, earning a relatively meagre $203,700 a year
  3. Tillerson has forged multibillion-dollar deals with Russia's state oil company, Rosneft, and is known to be friendly with Igor Sechin, the Rosneft chairman who was formerly Putin's deputy PM
  4. As a youth, he was a high-achieving scout and served as president of the Boy Scouts of America from 2010-12
  5. Tillerson is a former director of the United Negro College Fund, a US organisation that funds scholarships for black students and supports historically black colleges and universities

Read our profile of Rex Tillerson

Rex Tillerson speaks in Abu Dhabi in November 2016
AFP
Rex Tillerson speaks in Abu Dhabi in November 2016

Moscow: 'We accept this'

Tillerson’s strong ties to Russia - in 2013, the Kremlin gave him an Order of Friendship award - could make for a bumpy ride in his Senate confirmation hearing. But Moscow played it straight in its reaction to the oilman’s appointment. 

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: "We accept this as the US president-elect's decision. As President Putin has said on numerous occasions, we are ready to work with any partners that are interested in developing equal relations with the Russian Federation."

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
AFP
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

'An excellent choice'

The reaction is coming in thick and fast to Trump's pick of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. Here's former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: "Rex Tillerson is an excellent choice for secretary of state. He will bring to the post remarkable and broad international experience; a deep understanding of the global economy; and a belief in America’s special role in the world.

"I know Rex as a successful business man and a patriot. He will represent the interests and values of the United States with resolve and commitment. And he will lead the exceptional men and women of the State Department with respect and dedication."

Rex Tillerson
AP
Rex Tillerson