Trump decides to tap Exxon CEO for U.S. secretary of state; announcement Tuesday

WASHINTON (AP) -- President-elect Donald Trump has selected Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next U.S. secretary of state, two people close to Trump's transition team said Monday night.

Trump earlier tweeted that he will  announce his pick Tuesday morning.

The decision caps a lengthy process that often played out In public and exposed rifts within Trump's transition team. But Tillerson's close ties to Russia could still complicate his Senate confirmation hearings.

Trump was set to formally announce Tillerson's nomination Tuesday morning. The people close to Trump's transition insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the pick ahead of that announcement.

Trump had been considering former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, once a vocal Trump critic; Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who leads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and Tillerson, who met twice with Trump during the past week.

In an interview with "Fox News Sunday," Trump pointed to Tillerson's deep relations with Moscow as a selling point.

As Exxon Mobil's head, Tillerson maintained close ties with Russia and was awarded by President Vladimir Putin with the Order of Friendship, an honor for foreign citizens.

Mitt Romney confirmed earlier Monday night that he would not be Trump's pick.

"It was an honor to have been considered for secretary of state of our great country. My discussions with President-elect Trump have been both enjoyable and enlightening. I have very high hopes that the new administration will lead the nation to greater strength, prosperity and peace," Romney said in a Facebook post.

Trump placed a call to Romney to tell him he would not be the pick, according to two sources familiar with the transition.