Trump's pick for State Dept. cuts ties with oil industry ahead of confirmation hearings

President-Elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is severing ties with Exxon Mobil through a $180 million retirement package ahead of his Senate confirmation hearing.

Tillerson was expected to step down at CEO of Exxon Mobil in March when he turned 65, the company’s mandatory retirement age, but instead is leaving his post early to comply with federal conflict-of-interest rules.

Exxon said in a regulatory filing Wednesday that Tillerson has agreed to give up approximately 2 million unvested shares, and in exchange, the company has agreed to make a cash payment equal to the value of those shares into a trust.

Tillerson, who worked for Exxon for more than 40 years, is giving up about $7 million in compensation and benefits that he would have received if he had stayed until March.

“Tillerson has also committed to the State Department that, if confirmed, he would sell the more than 600,000 shares in ExxonMobil he currently owns,” read a statement from ExxonMobil.

A source from the Trump Transition Team told that Tillerson’s resignation from the oil giant shows his commitment to public service. Tillerson developed an ethics plan that removed Exxon stock from his personal portfolio, though some of the financial details are contingent on his Senate confirmation, according to the source.

GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., praised Tillerson's conduct ahead of what could be a gruelling confirmation process.

“Sen. Corker enjoyed a wide-ranging discussion with Rex Tillerson yesterday and is impressed with the way in which he has conducted himself thus far,” a spokesperson for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told “It appears that Mr. Tillerson and Exxon reached a responsible agreement after consultation with federal ethics officials to ensure there are absolutely no conflicts of interest.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Sen. Ben Cardin, D- Md., said he spoke with Tillerson, but added that he would not make up his mind until after the confirmation hearing. Cardin said the meeting focused on Russia, but the two also discussed climate change. Cardin came away reassured that Tillerson “believes in science.”

Trump’s own business ties, as well as those of his adult children working in the administration, have raised questions about potential conflicts-of-interest. Tillerson isn’t the only cabinet-pick facing similar questions.

Goldman Sachs’ Chief Operating Officer and President Gary Cohn, named assistant to the president for economic policy and director of the National Economic Council, sold $210 million in company stock to avoid potential conflicts of interest, according to Bloomberg. Goldman Sachs had no comment regarding Cohn’s nomination.

And just yesterday, the Senate Commerce Committee released a questionnaire for Wilbur Ross, Trump's pick for Secretary of Commerce, who reportedly is in contact with the Office of Government Ethics to ensure no conflict-of-interest violations when it comes to his personal financial ties.

The Senate Commerce Committee chose not to comment on the status of Ross, but Committee Chairman Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said on Tuesday that the committee hopes to hold a confirmation hearing for Trump’s picks for Commerce and Transportation secretaries “as early as next week.”

The Office of Government Ethics reviews financial incomes and assets of everyone that requires Senate confirmation, along with certain senior White House employees once they’re in place, which could take place soon after Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20.