Warhawk Senate Relic McCain still ‘concerned’ about Tillerson’s ties with Russia
McCain still ‘concerned’ about Tillerson’s ties with Russia
US Republican Senator John McCain has repeated his concerns about President-elect Donald Trump’s designated secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who is said to have struck major deals with Russia.
Speaking on Thursday during a trip to the Baltic States—Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia—,McCain said he was looking forward to hear Tillerson’s explanations about his ties with Moscow as the CEO of the energy giant ExxonMobil.
“I and several of my colleagues have concerns about Mr. Tillerson, and some of his past activities, specifically his relationship with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin,” said the Arizona Senator, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“I have concerns but at the same time I’m certain we will give Mr. Tillerson an opportunity to make his case about why he is qualified to be Secretary of State,” he added.
Under Tillerson’s management, the energy giant ExxonMobil negotiated a major energy deal with Moscow in 2011, according to The Wall Street Journal. Putin said at the time that the deal could be worth over $500 billion.
According to leaked documents, Tillerson once also directed Exxon’s Russian subsidiary, Exxon Neftegas.
His appointment must be approved at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where Republicans hold a 10-to-nine advantage.
If just one Republican member and all Democrats gang up against Tillerson, they could sink his nomination before it even reaches the Senate floor.
US President-elect Donald Trump (L) and his designated secretary of state Rex Tillerson
Two Republican senators in the committee – Marco Rubio and John McCain – have already questioned the oil chief’s close business ties with Russia and Putin.
McCain’s comments came amid reports that the administration of President Barack Obama was going to announce new sanctions against Russia in retaliation to what Washington describes as Moscow’s attempts to influence the outcome of the recent presidential election.
Trump said in reaction to the reports that the US has to move on from the controversy, a view that McCain did not agree with.
“I agree with president elect that we need to get on with our lives – without having elections being affected by any outside influence, especially Vladimir Putin, who is a thug and a murderer,” he said.
Fellow Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is accompanying McCain, said the anti-Russia sanctions should be expanded and directly target Putin.
Tillerson has opposed imposing sanctions against Russia.