Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates is offering strong backing to President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE’s pick to be secretary of State.
"I strongly endorse the President-Elect's selection of Rex Tillerson to be the next Secretary of State,” Gates said in a statement Tuesday morning, according to “Fox & Friends.”
“He will bring to the position vast knowledge, experience, and success in dealing with dozens of governments and leaders in every corner of the world.”
Gates served as Secretary of Defense under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaEmanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing Public officials are under physical and digital siege We must protect and support our health care safety net MORE.
Trump said in a statement early Tuesday that Tillerson would be his choice to head the State Department.
The announcement came amid criticism from members of Congress over Tillerson’s ties to Russia through is business dealings as CEO of ExxonMobil.
ExxonMobil is a client of Gates' consulting firm, RiceHadleyGates LLC. The firm is a partnership with Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and former national security advisor Stephen Hadley, both of whom served in the Bush Administration with Gates.