U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has tweeted that he will announce his choice to become the next secretary of state on December 13, with news reports saying Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson remains the front-runner.
Trump did not say on December 12 who he would name, but Fox News, AP, and Reuters became the latest to report that Tillerson is Trump's choice for the prized top diplomatic post.
Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters that Tillerson's long business experience with drilling projects in Russia helped make him a "leading candidate" for the job.
If he is nominated, however, his extensive ties with Russia may be the focus of bipartisan concern in the closely divided Senate, which would vote on confirming him.
"I have concerns. It's very well known that he has a very close relationship with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin." Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain told Reuters. McCain called Putin "a KGB agent who is bent on restoring the Russian Empire."
Senator Charles Schumer, who will be the Senate's Democratic leader next year, told CBS that "a guy like Tillerson needs a thorough, thorough hearing." He added that "talks about his closeness with Putin will come forward."