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 TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question 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 ObamaBiden to debate for first time as front-runner John Kerry: Play based on Mueller report is 'an act of public service' Obama photographed alongside Clooney on boat in Italy 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.