‘I didn’t want the job, wife said I had to’ – US Secretary of State Tillerson
“I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job,” Tillerson said during a three-nation Asia trip in an interview on his plane with the Independent Journal Review (IJR), a little-known US news and opinion website founded by former Republican party staffers.
“My wife told me I’m supposed to do this,” he said, adding that he had not even met Donald Trump before he was summoned to Trump Tower to discuss global affairs and subsequently offered the position as the administration’s top diplomat.
“When he asked me at the end of that conversation to be secretary of state, I was stunned,” Tillerson confessed. The former CEO of Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest oil explorer, said he had planned to retire from business in March of this year and “go to the ranch to be with my grandkids.” Yet, when he got home from that fateful meeting and told his wife Renda St. Clair about the offer, she said, “I told you God’s not through with you.”
Now, nearly two months on the job, Tillerson, who will be 65 this upcoming Thursday, says Renda did the right thing.
“My wife convinced me. She was right. I’m supposed to do this,” the secretary of state said.
The public quickly reacted to Tillerson’s confession, which left people on Twitter either amused or dumbfounded.
The US Senate approved Trump’s pick for secretary of state on February 1. Tillerson’s candidacy initially met with opposition, with critics pointing out that the oil executive had no government or diplomatic experience. His business ties with Russia, which he established during his time at Exxon Mobil, also raised questions, as did allegations that had tried to hide the effects of climate change while the company’s CEO. A handful of senior US diplomats resigned just as the Senate was expected to confirm Tillerson as secretary of state, while the majority of Senate Democrats voted against him.
Tillerson still got the job and is now the first US secretary of state with no prior experience in any public office. However, in the interview with IJR, he asserted that his experience as Exxon’s CEO translates perfectly to his duties as state secretary, as he can use it to reform the State Department and make it more effective and efficient. He noted that under his leadership, Exxon’s workforce dropped from 100,000 to 75,000, while the company became bigger and more complex at the same time. Tillerson said he aims to make the State Department more efficient as well and hopes that, one day, “the people at the State Department will find their jobs much more rewarding.”