|Height:||173 cm (5' 9'')|
|Birth Day:||March 23, 1952|
|Birth Place:||Irving, TX, United States|
Tillerson was born on March 23, 1952, in Wichita Falls, Texas, the son of Patty Sue (née Patton) and Bobby Joe Tillerson, and named after Rex Allen and John Wayne, two Hollywood actors famous for playing cowboys. He was raised in Vernon, Texas; Stillwater, Oklahoma; and Huntsville, Texas. He has two sisters, Rae Ann Hamilton, a physician who resides in Abilene, Texas, and Jo Lynn Peters, a high school educator. Tillerson's father was an executive of the Boy Scouts of America organization, and this led to his family's move to Huntsville, Texas. Tillerson himself has been active in the Boy Scouts for most of his life, and in his youth he earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
At age 14, he began to work as a bus boy in the student union building at Oklahoma State University. Two years later in 1968 he became a janitor working in one of the engineering buildings at the university. On weekends, he worked picking cotton.
Tillerson graduated from Huntsville High School in 1970. He was a section leader for the percussion section of his high school band, in which he played the kettle drums and snare drum, and he earned spots in the all-district and all-region bands during his senior year. Tillerson received a college scholarship from the University of Texas Longhorn Band. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975. During his time at UT Austin, he was involved with the Tejas Club (an all-male secret society) and the marching band.
Tillerson joined Exxon Company USA in 1975 as a production engineer. In 1989, Tillerson became general manager of the central production division of Exxon USA. In 1995, he became President of Exxon Yemen Inc. and Esso Exploration and Production Khorat Inc.
Rex Tillerson has been married twice. He divorced Jamie Lee Henry, his first wife, with whom he has twin boys. In 1986, Tillerson married Renda St. Clair, who has a son from her previous marriage. Tillerson also has a son, born in 1988, with St. Clair. Tillerson's twin sons are engineers and hold their bachelor's degrees from the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2006, Tillerson was named a Distinguished Engineering Graduate.
In 1998, he became a vice president of Exxon Ventures (CIS) and president of Exxon Neftegas Limited with responsibility for Exxon's holdings in Russia and the Caspian Sea. He then entered Exxon into the Sakhalin-I consortium with Rosneft.
In 1999, with the merger of Exxon and Mobil, he was named executive vice president of ExxonMobil Development Company. In 2004, he became president and director of ExxonMobil. Upon this appointment Tillerson's replacement of Lee Raymond as CEO of Exxon Mobil was implied. His major competitor was Ed Galante, another Exxon executive. On January 1, 2006, Tillerson was elected chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), following the retirement of Lee Raymond. At the time, Exxon had 80,000 employees, did business in nearly 200 countries, and had an annual revenue of nearly $400 billion.
Tillerson was a friend of Igor Sechin, the Executive Chairman of Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, and leader of the Kremlin's Siloviki (security/military) faction, who has been described as "Russia's second-most powerful person" after Putin. Exxon owns a dacha next door to Sechin's and Tillerson would often visit him there. Tillerson led Sechin on a tour of New York City, dining on caviar with him and Putin at the Per Se restaurant. In 2006, Exxon avoided making any government concessions in its Sakhalin-I oil field after Royal Dutch Shell was forced to sell half of its ownership in Sakhalin-II by the Russian government.
Speaking in March 2007 at a Council on Foreign Relations event, Tillerson said:
Under Tillerson's leadership, ExxonMobil cooperated closely with Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter and a longtime U.S. ally; Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. From 2003 to 2005, a European subsidiary of ExxonMobil, Infineum, operated in the Middle East providing sales to Iran, Sudan and Syria. ExxonMobil stated that they followed all legal framework and that such sales were minuscule compared to their annual revenue of $371 billion at the time. In 2009, ExxonMobil acquired XTO Energy, a major natural gas producer, for $31 billion in stock. Michael Corkery of the Wall Street Journal wrote that "Tillerson's legacy rides on the XTO Deal." Tillerson approved Exxon negotiating a multibillion-dollar deal with the government of Iraqi Kurdistan, despite opposition from President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, both of whom argued it would increase regional instability.
Tillerson is a long-time volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), and from 2010 to 2012 was their national president, its highest non-executive position. Tillerson is a Distinguished Eagle Scout, and his father was a BSA executive. Tillerson is a long-time supporter of the BSA and has said, "I think the highlight of my youth and adolescent years were my achievements in Scouting." In 2009, Tillerson was inducted into the Eagle Scout Hall of Fame of the Greater New York Councils. Ray L. Hunt, a close friend and the Chairman of Hunt Consolidated, told the Dallas Morning News, "To understand Rex Tillerson, you need to understand Scouting."
Tillerson announced in 2009 that ExxonMobil favored a carbon tax as "the most efficient means of reflecting the cost of carbon in all economic decisions—from investments made by companies to fuel their requirements to the product choices made by consumers". In October 2016, less than two months before his nomination as Secretary of State, he reaffirmed that ExxonMobil believed a carbon tax would be "the best policy of those being considered. Replacing the hodge-podge of current, largely ineffective regulations with a revenue-neutral carbon tax would ensure a uniform and predictable cost of carbon across the economy ... allow market forces to drive solutions ... maximize transparency, reduce administrative complexity, promote global participation and easily adjust" to new knowledge in climate science and in the policy consequences of various courses of action.
An article in The New York Times suggested that ExxonMobil's embrace of a carbon tax in October 2009 may have simply been an effort to avoid cap and trade legislation that was then being considered by the U.S. Congress as an alternative method of carbon pricing. A Time magazine article in December 2016 asserted that since Tillerson announced his company's preference for a carbon tax, ExxonMobil "has not made a carbon tax a focus of its massive lobbying efforts and has supported a number of candidates and organizations that oppose measures to tackle the [climate change] issue".
In 2010, Tillerson said that while he acknowledged that humans were affecting the climate through greenhouse gas emissions to some degree, it was not yet clear "to what extent and therefore what can you do about it". At the 2020 Argus Americas Crude Summit, Tillerson further expressed doubt that humans could do anything to combat climate change.
In August 2011, Putin attended a ceremony in Sochi where Tillerson and Sechin signed an agreement between ExxonMobil and Rosneft to drill the East-Prinovozemelsky field in the Arctic Ocean valued at up to $300 billion. The Rosneft deal also gave the state-owned oil company a 30% stake in Exxon owned assets in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Canada, and West Texas. The company began drilling in the Kara Sea in the summer of 2014, and a round of sanctions against Russia introduced in September that year due to the Ukrainian crisis was to have brought the project to a halt in mid-September. Nevertheless, the company was granted a reprieve that stretched the window to work until October 10, which enabled it to discover a major field with about 750 million barrels of new oil for Russia. In July 2017, the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control fined ExxonMobil $2 million for violating sanctions in its dealings with Sechin, leading the company to sue the government.
In 2012, Tillerson's compensation package was $40.5 million. It was $28.1 million in 2013, $33.1 million in 2014, and $27.2 million in 2015. In late 2016, Tillerson held $54 million of Exxon stock, and had a right to deferred stock worth approximately $180 million over the next 10 years. Tillerson is estimated to be worth at least $300 million. When he left Exxon, Tillerson was four months away from retirement, at which time he would have been entitled to a $180 million retirement package. He owns two ranches in Texas, where his wife, Renda, raises cutting horses.
In 2012, Tillerson stated concerning climate change, that "there are much more pressing priorities that we as a—as a human being, race, and society need to deal with... you'd save millions upon millions of lives by making fossil fuels more available" to the world's poor, and that "It's an engineering problem and there will be an engineering solution."
In 2012, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Tillerson expressed his impatience with government regulation, stating "there are a thousand ways you can be told 'no' in this country."
He has contributed to the political campaigns of George W. Bush, as well as Mitt Romney in 2012, and Mitch McConnell. He did not donate to Donald Trump's campaign. He donated to Jeb Bush's campaign during the 2016 Republican primaries.
He is a Congregationalist who holds a membership in the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, a mainline Reformed denomination. He and his wife donated between $5,000 and $10,000 to the denomination's The Congregationalist Magazine in 2012.
In 2013, Tillerson was awarded the Order of Friendship by Putin for his contribution to developing cooperation in the energy sector.
Tillerson is a trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the American Petroleum Institute. He is also a member of the Business Roundtable. In 2013, he became a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He was a member of the executive committee of The Business Council for 2011 and 2012.
In 2013, Tillerson outlined his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), stating at the Global Security Forum: "One of the most promising developments on this front is the ongoing effort for the Trans-Pacific Partnership ... The 11 nations that have been working to lower trade barriers and end protectionist policies under this partnership are a diverse mix of developed and developing economies. But all of them understand the value of open markets to growth and progress for every nation."
In September 2013, Tillerson wrote an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal defending Common Core.
In 2014, Tillerson expressed opposition to the sanctions against Russia in response to the annexation of Crimea at an Exxon shareholder meeting. He told the meeting "We do not support sanctions, generally, because we don't find them to be effective unless they are very well implemented comprehensively and that's a very hard thing to do." In 2016, Tillerson said that the US should have deployed military units to neighboring states next to Russia in a more "muscular" response. In 2017, Tillerson said that Russia's annexation of Crimea was illegal. He also compared China's controversial island-building in the South China Sea to Russia's annexation of Crimea.
On February 20, 2014, news outlets reported that Tillerson and his wife had joined opponents of a proposed water tower that could lead to fracking-related traffic near their homes. Plaintiffs included former U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Dick Armey and his wife. The Tillersons dropped out of the lawsuit after a judge dismissed their claim in November 2014.
In 2015, Tillerson was named as the 25th-most-powerful person in the world by Forbes.
Tillerson was first recommended to then-President-elect Trump for the Secretary of State role by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, during her meeting with Trump in late November 2016. Rice's recommendation of Tillerson to Trump was backed up by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, three days later. Media speculation that he was being considered for the position began on December 5, 2016. On December 9, transition officials reported that Tillerson was the top candidate for the position, surpassing contenders such as Mitt Romney and David Petraeus. His nomination was reportedly advocated by Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner.
In 2016, Tillerson stated, "The world is going to have to continue using fossil fuels, whether they like it or not."
Tillerson lobbied against Rule 1504 of the Dodd–Frank reform and protections, which would have required Exxon to disclose payments to foreign governments. In 2017, Congress voted to overturn Rule 1504 one hour before Tillerson was confirmed as Secretary of State.
On January 4, 2017, The Financial Times reported that Tillerson would cut his ExxonMobil ties if he became Secretary of State. Walter Shaub, the director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, said he was proud of the ethics agreement developed for Tillerson, who was now "free of financial conflicts of interest. His ethics agreement serves as a sterling model for what we'd like to see with other nominees."
In June 2017, Tillerson said Trump had asked him to "stabilize the relationship (with Russia) and build trust."
On January 3, 2017, ExxonMobil announced they had reached an agreement with Tillerson "to sever all ties with the company to comply with conflict-of-interest requirements associated with his nomination as secretary of state."
Tillerson's use of the alias became publicly known in March 2017, after New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote in a letter to a judge that Tillerson had used the "Wayne Tracker" email for at least seven years. Later that month, Exxon revealed that emails from the alias account from September 2014 to September 2015 were missing; a further search recovered some emails, but none between September 5, 2014, and November 28, 2014. An attorney for Exxon said that a "unique issue" limited to that account led to emails being automatically deleted.
On July 9, 2017, Tillerson received the Dewhurst Award from the World Petroleum Council in recognition for "outstanding contribution to the oil and gas industry" during his 41 years at Exxon Mobil.
On January 20, 2017, shortly after being sworn in as President of the United States, Trump formally sent his nomination of Tillerson as Secretary of State to the United States Senate. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Tillerson's nomination 11–10, a strict party line vote, on January 23, 2017.
The Senate confirmed Tillerson as Secretary of State on February 1, 2017. The Senate voted 56 to 43, with all 52 Republicans in support of his nomination as well as three Democrats and one independent. He was sworn in on the same day by Vice President Mike Pence.
On February 15, 2017, Tillerson embarked on his first overseas trip as Secretary of State to Bonn, Germany, meeting with foreign ministers from the G20. In Bonn, Tillerson had meetings with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, as well as his counterparts from Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. Tillerson urged Russia to withdraw from eastern Ukraine, stating that "the United States will consider working with Russia when we can find areas of practical cooperation that will benefit the American people. Where we do not see eye to eye, the United States will stand up for the interests and values of America and her allies. As we search for new common ground, we expect Russia to honor its commitment to the Minsk agreements and work to de-escalate the violence in Ukraine." Tillerson also reaffirmed U.S. commitment to defending South Korea and Japan.
Tillerson made his first visit to Mexico on February 23, 2017, traveling with Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly. When meeting with Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray Caso of Mexico, Tillerson acknowledged differences between the U.S. and Mexico on views of border security, but also acknowledged the need for cooperation in addressing migration, as well as arms trafficking. Tillerson recused himself from TransCanada's application for a presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
Before the inauguration, Tillerson selected Elliott Abrams to be the United States Deputy Secretary of State. In February 2017, they held an interview with President Trump in the Oval Office. There, Tillerson contradicted the President's criticism of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, advising Trump of Exxon's success in refusing a bribe demand by Yemen's oil minister. The next day, Fox News criticized Abrams, and Tillerson soon told Abrams he would not be nominated.
In mid-March 2017, Tillerson made his first trip to Asia, traveling to Japan, South Korea, and China. Tillerson remarked that diplomatic efforts in the past 20 years to stop North Korea's nuclear development had "failed". Tillerson also stated the United States may need to take preemptive action, remarking "Certainly, we do not want things to get to a military conflict ... but obviously, if North Korea takes actions that threatens the South Korean forces or our own forces, then that would be met with an appropriate response. If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe that requires action, that option is on the table."
On March 30, 2017, Tillerson met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey. Turkey has criticized the United States over its support for Syrian Kurds. In May, protestors and Erdoğan's bodyguards clashed outside of the Turkish Ambassador's Residence in Washington, D.C. Tillerson said that the incident was "outrageous" and that the Trump administration has expressed "dismay" over it. He said the administration would await the outcome of an investigation before taking further action.
In mid-April 2017, Tillerson made his first trip to Russia as Secretary of State, meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin. At a news conference, Tillerson remarked that Russian–U.S. relations were at a "low point". Tillerson also warned Russia of the risk of "becoming irrelevant in the Middle East" by continuing to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In May 2017, Tillerson joined Trump on the President's first overseas trip, with the first destination being Saudi Arabia. While in Saudi Arabia, Tillerson held a joint press conference with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir.
In June 2017, Tillerson excluded Myanmar, Iraq, and Afghanistan from the list of countries that employ child soldiers in that year's Trafficking in Persons Report, rejecting the unanimous recommendations of staff. Staff then circulated a memo in their Dissent Channel alleging that Tillerson's decision was in violation of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act. In late November 2017, the topic garnered national attention when the State Department defended Tillerson's actions in the wake of an anonymous complaint by a State Department official to the State Department Inspector General and the distribution of supporting documents to the Inspector General and to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
In November 2017, Tillerson said that recent Rohingya persecution in Myanmar was ethnic cleansing.
In October 2017, news reports surfaced regarding a deteriorating relationship between Tillerson and Trump. According to reports, in a July 20 meeting, Trump suggested a tenfold increase in the United States nuclear arsenal, which would cost trillions and take centuries, after which individuals familiar with the meeting told journalists that Tillerson either called Trump a "moron" or a "fucking moron". Additionally, there were well-sourced reports of Tillerson offering to resign his office as Secretary of State, only to be discouraged from doing so by Vice President Mike Pence; however, these were officially denied by both Tillerson and the White House. Furthermore, on October 1, Trump directly contradicted, via a public tweet, Tillerson's policy of negotiation with North Korea; this move was widely panned by experts, who thought that such a public undermining of the chief diplomat of the United States would weaken Tillerson's ability to negotiate with other countries. On October 10, after Tillerson's alleged "moron" comment was reported in the media, Trump challenged Tillerson to "IQ tests", and three days later Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee, the Chair of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee who had become a vocal Trump critic around that time, remarked that Trump was "publicly castrating" Tillerson.
In March 2017, Robert Jervis of Columbia University wrote that Tillerson "had little impact on the Trump administration so far" and that his influence would continue to wane. That same month, William Inboden of the University of Texas at Austin defended Tillerson, saying that he deserves more time. Daniel W. Drezner of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University was highly critical of Tillerson, calling him an "unmitigated disaster", and "the most incompetent Secretary of State in modern history." Elliot Cohen of Johns Hopkins University said that Tillerson might be one of the weakest Secretaries of State in American history. Elizabeth Saunders of George Washington University said that Tillerson's tenure had damaged the State Department "for a generation" and decreased America's ability to respond to major crisis.
In October 2017, Politico reported that Tillerson's major foreign policy positions include "urging the United States to stay in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate accord, taking a hard line on Russia, advocating negotiations and dialogue to defuse the mounting crisis with North Korea, advocating for continued U.S. adherence to the Iran nuclear deal, taking a neutral position in the dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and reassuring jittery allies, from South Korea and Japan to our NATO partners, that America still has their back".
President Trump's 2018 United States federal budget sought to reduce the State Department's budget by 31%. Tillerson froze most hiring and sought to remove 2,000 career diplomats by offering them $25,000 buyouts. In June 2017, Tillerson told graduates of the Rangel and the Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowships that their offers to join the United States Foreign Service were rescinded and that they needed to repay the $85,000 scholarships or agree to work in temporary positions. Tillerson reversed that decision and allowed the graduates to become full Foreign Service Officers after being asked to do so by 31 members of Congress. Applications to take the Foreign Service entrance exam dropped 50% that year.
On March 13, 2018, Tillerson commented on the nerve gas poisoning in the United Kingdom of a former Russian spy and his daughter, calling it a "really egregious act" that clearly "came from Russia".
John Sullivan, the Deputy Secretary of State, served as acting Secretary until March 31, when Tillerson formally left office. Trump proposed Mike Pompeo (with whom Trump had a much more positive relationship) as Tillerson's successor and Gina Haspel as the new CIA director. Haspel was confirmed on May 17, 2018, making her the first female CIA director. Tillerson's total time in office was 423 days, making him the shortest-serving Secretary of State since Lawrence Eagleburger (1992–93). The last time a president's first appointee to the position served for less time was in 1898, when John Sherman left office after 413 days. Tillerson is also the only Secretary of State since at least 1945 to have been fired.
In December 2018, President Trump called Tillerson "dumb as a rock" and "lazy as hell" after Tillerson held a speech where he described Trump as "pretty undisciplined". Tillerson said Trump "doesn't like to read, doesn't read briefing reports, doesn't like to get into the details of a lot of things". Trump made similar remarks again in May 2019 after Tillerson reportedly said Trump had been out-maneuvered in a meeting with Vladimir Putin. Trump had previously lauded Tillerson, describing him as a "one of the truly great business leaders of the world" and a "world class player and dealmaker".
On May 16, 2018, Tillerson gave a graduation speech at Virginia Military Institute. In an apparent rebuke of President Trump, Tillerson warned that there is "a growing crisis in ethics and integrity." "If our leaders seek to conceal the truth or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom."
Speaking to members and staffers of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in May 2019, Tillerson said he and Trump "shared a common goal: to secure and advance America's place in the world and to promote and protect American values," but noted they do not share the same "value system". Asked to describe Trump's values, he replied, "I cannot."
In May 2019, Tillerson privately discussed with members of Congress his frustration that during his tenure Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner conducted discussions with foreign dignitaries without advising the State Department. In one instance, Tillerson entered a Washington restaurant and was asked by the owner if he wanted to meet with the Mexican foreign minister, who was dining with Kushner in the back of the restaurant; Tillerson was unaware the foreign minister was in Washington.
Currently, Rex Tillerson is 70 years, 8 months and 6 days old. Rex Tillerson will celebrate 71st birthday on a Thursday 23rd of March 2023.
Find out about Rex Tillerson birthday activities in timeline view here.