Robert Gates strongly backs Trump pick for secretary of State

Robert Gates strongly backs Trump pick for secretary of State

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates is offering strong backing to President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate 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.”

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“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 ObamaThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's account | Accuser may testify Thursday | Midterm blame game begins Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states Ford taps Obama, Clinton alum to navigate Senate hearing 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.