NBC Fears Tillerson Will Enrich Putin: ‘the Kremlin Couldn’t Be Happier’

It appeared that NBC sharpened its claws in preparation for NBC Nightly News on Tuesday, as the network sent Richard Engel to Russia. The reporter was there to find dirt on President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. “I'm Richard Engel in Moscow, where the Kremlin couldn't be happier with the way Trump's cabinet is shaping up, especially with Rex Tillerson as potential Secretary of State,” he declared at the start of his report.

Engel spoke with a man named Vladimir Milov, who he claimed was a former minister of energy for the Russian government. “It's absolutely a gift for Putin,” Milov told Engel. “Obviously the conflict of interest is something that is written on Mr. Tillerson's forehead,” Milov would tell him.

The conflict of interest is Tillerson’s past oil deals with an energy company owned by the Russian government. “Tillerson is best known here for making a deal with an oil giant called Rosneft,” Engel explained, while warned that the company’s headquarters was in spitting distance of the Kremlin. “And analysts say the company is like a cash cow for President Putin and his inner circle,” Engel continued.

A Russian energy analyst explained to Engel, “This is the personal purse, or wallet, of the Russian president.” The NBC reporter built off of the analyst’s fear and argued, “And that wallet could grow significantly. And Tillerson is at the center of it.” Engel ranted:

ExxonMobil and Russia's Rosneft have an outstanding oil deal in the arctic, Russia valued at $500 billion. A deal so important, after it, he was given the Russian Medal of Friendship. But the deal is on hold because of U.S. sanctions …

Closing out his report, Engel concluded, “As secretary of state, Tillerson will be able to push for the lifting of the sanctions against Russia, something he lobbied for as a CEO.

NBC’s vigor in driving home this narrative of fear about Tillerson’s dealings with Russian is rather extraordinary. It’s especially extraordinary when one realizes that this level of vigor was not present for Hillary Clinton when then President-Elect Barack Obama nominated her to be secretary of state, in regards to the Clinton Foundation. 

Transcript below: 

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NBC Nightly News
December 13, 2016
7:06:08 PM Eastern

RICHARD ENGEL: I'm Richard Engel in Moscow, where the Kremlin couldn't be happier with the way Trump's cabinet is shaping up, especially with Rex Tillerson as potential secretary of state. Vladimir Milov is a former Russian minister of energy.

VLADIMIR MILOV: It's absolutely a gift for Putin.

ENGEL: Tillerson is best known here for making a deal with an oil giant called Rosneft. That's its headquarters over there. Just over the Moscow River from the Kremlin. And analysts say the company is like a cash cow for President Putin and his inner circle. Mikel, an energy analyst says the dividends earned by Rosneft end up in only one place.

MIKEL: This is the personal purse, or wallet, of the Russian president.

ENGEL: And that wallet could grow significantly. And Tillerson is at the center of it. Exxon Mobil and Russia's Rosneft have an outstanding oil deal in the arctic, Russia valued at $500 billion. A deal so important, after it, he was given the Russian Medal of Friendship. But the deal is on hold because of U.S. sanctions.

MILOV: Obviously the conflict of interest is something that is written on Mr. Tillerson forehead.

ENGEL: Written on his forehead?

MILOV: Written on his forehead.

ENGEL: Conflict of interest?

MILOV: Yes.

ENGEL: As far as Russia's concerned?

MILOV: 100 percent.

ENGEL: As secretary of state, Tillerson will be able to push for the lifting of the sanctions against Russia, something he lobbied for as a CEO. Richard Engel, NBC news, Moscow.

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Appointments Economy Oil & Gas Prices Foreign Policy Russia Government Agencies Bias by Omission Conspiracy Theories Double Standards Labeling Trump transition NBC NBC Nightly News Video Rex Tillerson Richard Engel Donald Trump Vladimir Putin

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