President Donald Trump’s administration has already been plagued by scandal before it’s 100th day has even come to pass. Now, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been caught using a fake name while he was Exxon Mobil’s chief executive.
These revelations come as part of a fraud investigation by New York and Massachusetts into whether the oil company misled investors for years about the possible impact of climate change on its business model.
Between the years 2008 and 2015 Tillerson used the name Wayne Tracker to discuss the potential impact of climate change. The reason given for using this account on the Exxon Mobil systems instead of his own was for “secure and expedited communications between select senior company officials and the former chairman for a broad range of business related topics.” Tillerson’s own account was supposedly receiving too many messages according to Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers.
This is the third e-mail related scandal to hit Washington D.C. recently after it was revealed that both Hillary Clinton and Vice President Mike Pence used their private and unsecured e-mail accounts to conduct official government business. However, neither of those cases involved the perpetrators using an alias.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneidermann issued a statement on the matter, saying:
Despite the company’s incidental production of approximately 60 documents bearing the ‘Wayne Tracker’ email address, neither Exxon nor its counsel have ever disclosed that this separate email account was a vehicle for Mr Tillerson’s relevant communications at Exxon, and no documents appear to have been collected from this email account.
Exxon Mobil has already tried to cover their tracks by not including the sixty e-mails associated with “Wayne Tracker” when corruption investigators subpoenaed documents relevant to the climate change scandal.
Questions are now being raised about what the company knew about the damaging effects of fossil fuels on the environment and when.
Republicans are trying to derail the investigation into Exxon Mobil on the grounds that it seeks to silence scientists who dispute that climate change is caused primarily by humans. If it turns out that the company knew about the dangers of climate change and deliberately tried to hide them there will be serious repercussions, not least for Exxon Mobil’s reputation.
Trump has no problem employing corrupt businessmen. There is a very good reason why Tillerson would use a fake name: he and Exxon Mobil knew how bad the company’s business practices were affecting the environment, and they needed a degree of deniability when discussing climate change, the cause of which is almost certainly mostly as a result of humans.
If the Secretary of State is willing to hide his identity to protect himself from allegations he knowingly destroyed the planet, what else is he willing to hide? The Trump administration’s only degree of transparency comes through unauthorized leaks. Tillerson will surely keep the State Department shrouded in mystery.