Rubio, McCain question Exxon chief and Putin ‘friend’ as secretary of state

Senators John McCain (l) and Marco Rubio (r) have both raised concerns about Trump's reported pick for secretary of state [Graphic by Sima Morgan]
Senators John McCain (l) and Marco Rubio (r) have both raised concerns about Trump’s reported pick for secretary of state [Graphic by Sima Morgan]

 

Exxon chief Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s likely nominee for secretary of state, is facing significant opposition, not just from Democrats but from high-profile Republicans.

Saturday, Sen. Marco Rubio, who Trump famously called “little Marco” during the Republican primaries, tweeted out his concerns with Tillerson’s ties to Russia, which awarded Tillerson with an “Order of Friendship” after he helped Russia’s state-owned oil company get access to global Exxon sites in 2011.

“Being a “friend of Vladimir” is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #SecretaryOfState,” Rubio wrote on Sunday.

Journalist Sopan Deb, who covered the presidential campaign for CBS, ridiculed Rubio as hypocritical, saying on Twitter “Rubio, by the way, heard Trump say numerous times ‘What if we got along with Russia?’ almost every day on the trail and endorsed him anyway.”

If Rubio is an imperfect candidate for Republican criticisms of Tillerson, the message may be better served by longtime Trump-critic Sen. John McCain.

“It’s a matter of concern to me that he has such a close personal relationship with Vladimir Putin,” McCain said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “That would color his approach to Vladimir Putin and the Russian threat.”

So far, neither McCain nor Rubio have said explicitly that they will vote against Tillerson if he is officially nominated. That said, the Republicans have a slim majority in the Senate of just two, meaning that the Trump can’t afford to lose multiple GOP legislators if he hopes to have his nominee approved.

12/12/2016 2:32 PM by David Kinzer

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