Maddow jabs at Tillerson, Exxon Mobil on Russia deal

Maddow jabs at Tillerson, Exxon Mobil on Russia deal
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MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Wednesday needled Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after his former company Exxon Mobil Corp. reportedly asked for permission to resume a joint venture with Russia's state-run oil company. 

Reports emerged Wednesday that Exxon Mobil is seeking a waiver from sanctions from the Trump administration to resume collaboration with Russia’s state oil company.

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Exxon Mobil purportedly asked the Treasury Department in recent months if it could drill alongside Rosneft in the Black Sea, which is banned by U.S. economic sanctions put in place after Russia's annexation of Ukraine. 

Tillerson was Exxon Mobil’s CEO in 2012 when the two companies struck an exploration and drilling deal worth hundreds of billions of dollars. He later received Russia's Order of Friendship award from President Vladimir Putin. 

But that arrangement was largely put on ice with the implementation of sanctions.

The State Department is one of the agencies that helps Treasury decide whether it will grant a sanctions waiver.

Numerous senators questioned whether Tillerson’s business dealings in Russia made him too close with Putin during his confirmation hearings. 

Tillerson promised to recuse himself from matters related to Exxon Mobil for his first two years at the State Department.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on Exxon Mobil’s waiver request, said it remains unclear if the company applied for the status before or after Tillerson was confirmed.

Exxon Mobil obtained a separate waiver months after the sanctions were initially implemented so that it could complete a well in the Arctic Ocean.

Maddow is a vocal critic of President Trump and often covers his administration’s potential ties to Russia on her program.

The Intercept, a left-leaning publication, published an analysis earlier this month that found Maddow had dedicated 53 percent of her show to Russia during a six-week span.