Rex Tillerson, Trump's pick for secretary of State, seeks to allay fears about his long-running ties to Russia

Rex Tillerson, Trump's pick for secretary of State, seeks to allay fears about his long-running ties to Russia
  1. Rex Tillerson, Trump's pick for secretary of State, seeks to allay fears about his long-running ties to Russia
    Rex Tillerson faced harsh questions from fellow Republicans on Wednesday for his close personal ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, but his Senate confirmation as Donald Trump’s secretary of State did not appear to be in danger. In a sometimes testy hearing before the Senate Foreign R…

Rex Tillerson faced harsh questions from fellow Republicans on Wednesday for his close personal ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, but his Senate confirmation as Donald Trump’s secretary of State did not appear to be in danger.

In a sometimes testy hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest U.S. oil company, calmly defended his views on global warming, human rights and relations with Russia.

In a surprise, Tillerson said he and the president-elect had not yet discussed U.S. policy toward Russia, an issue that dominated Trump’s first postelection news conference after a U.S. intelligence report that said Putin sought to help Trump win the White House.

Tillerson, 64, also broke with Trump on foreign policy several times. It was unclear if that signaled a potential clash with the incoming White House or was intended to defuse his critics in Congress and the national security establishment.

Unlike Trump, he described an increasingly belligerent Russia as cause for alarm, and he condemned Moscow’s seizure of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine in 2014 as illegal.

He also offered support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement that President Obama has championed and Trump has condemned.

He called for a “full review” of the international accord that seeks to block Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, but did not vow to rip it up as Trump has said.

He said he does not agree with Trump’s comments  in March that Japan and South Korea should build their own nuclear weapons to help counter North Korea. Trump has since suggested that he was misunderstood.

Tillerson said he would oppose broadening ties further with Cuba because of its continued arrests of political opponents and other human rights abuses. But he did not pledge to shut Obama’s diplomatic opening, as Trump has suggested.

Unlike Trump’s other picks for Cabinet positions, Tillerson repeatedly found himself under fire from fellow Republicans as he struggled, not always successfully, to allay concerns about his long-running ties to Russia.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) proved his toughest interrogator, demanding to know whether Tillerson would label Putin a war criminal for what the U.S. government has said are Russian-backed attacks on civilian targets in Syria.

Tillerson said he “would not use that term.”

Rubio cited civilian casualties and other atrocities in the Syrian city of Aleppo that he said were committed by Syrian government forces backed by Russia.

“Those are very, very serious charges to make and I would want to have more information,” Tillerson said.

Rubio seemed irked at the response, saying he found it “disturbing.”

Tillerson also said he did not have sufficient information to condemn Putin over accusations that the leader had ordered the killings of political dissidents, journalists and others in Russia. 

"None of this is classified," Rubio retorted. "These people are dead.”

Tillerson was repeatedly pressed on his opposition, while running Exxon Mobil, to the economic sanctions that Washington and its allies imposed on Putin’s government for its actions in Ukraine.

Tillerson denied that he or Exxon had lobbied the government over sanctions, but senators presented several official documents that appeared to show extensive lobbying by the company.


In his testimony, Tillerson said sanctions too often hurt U.S. companies that do business abroad. Exxon Mobil has said it lost $1 billion after sanctions on Russia effectively killed a planned oil and gas project. 

“In protecting American interests, sanctions are a powerful tool,” Tillerson said. “Let’s design them well, target them well, enforce them fully.”

He said he believed Trump agreed with him on this matter.

He found support in the committee when he condemned Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, and its support for antigovernment insurgents in eastern Ukraine,…

  1. Team Babbitt’s/Monster Energy®/AMSOIL Kawasaki Rider Gavin Faith Wins in Baltimore - Motorsport
    01.23 / 02:47
    Team Babbitt’s/Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki presented by AP Designs rolled into Royal Farms Arena chasing their first win of the 2017 AMSOIL Arenacross season. NIGHT ONE Defending AMSOIL Arenacross Champion Gavin Faith started off the ev…
  2. Lakers' Brandon Ingram appears off his game against Mavericks

    01.23 / 02:23
    Eight minutes into the worst loss in franchise history, Lakers forward Brandon Ingram had already missed a reverse layup, airballed a three-pointer, thrown a bad pass for a turnover and had a short floating jumper swatted out of bounds by Mavericks reserve center Salah Mejri. The rookie was…
  3. Sepulveda Tunnel at LAX closed, causing airport traffic woes

    01.23 / 01:09
    Storm slams Southern California: Roads flooding and warnings issued around the region Jan. 22, 2017, 4:59 p.m. The National Weather Service is warning that the storm hitting Southern California on Sunday could be the strongest since 2010. The heaviest rain is expected this afternoon and…
  4. Ryan Dungey gets big start for first Supercross victory of season - Motorsport
    01.22 / 07:32
    ANAHEIM >> All those preliminary races?For Ryan Dungey, they must be overrated. The two-time reigning Monster Energy AMA Supercross champion crashed in the first turn of Saturday's heat race at Angel Stadium. He had a horrible start in the semifinal and barely made the main event.But the KTM rider from Clermont, Florida jumped to the front at the start of the 22-lap main event for his 32nd career victory before an announced crowd of…
  5. Yamaha Makes Strong Statement At Dakar Rally 2017 - Motorsport
    01.22 / 02:20
    The Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team proved to be a force to be reckoned with during this year's Dakar Rally. With team member Adrien Van Beveren winning the rally's final stage while locked in a fierce battle for an overall podium result,…
  6. Red Bull Ring receives trophy for best Grand Prix in 2016 - Motorsport
    01.22 / 02:19
    Over 215,000 fans packed into the Red Bull Ring at the 2016 Austrian GP, as MotoGP™ returned to the country for the first time in nearly two decades. After a weekend of incredible racing against the stunning backdrop of the Austrian landscape, the …
  7. Ducati go full throttle with SEAT in the MotoGP World Championship - Motorsport
    01.22 / 02:18
    The SEAT Leon CUPRA, presented Friday in Bologna, will be the official car of the Ducati Team in MotoGP Championship protagonists Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso, at the wheel of the Leon CUPRA SEAT’s most powerful model will accompany the te…
  8. Montoya wins Champion of Champions

    01.22 / 01:31
    Juan Pablo Montoya took his wife's advice and it paid off. Montoya had passed on previous invitations to participate in the annual Race of Champions, but when his wife, Connie … Click to Continue…
  9. Motor sports stars deem Race of Champions a success after one day

    01.22 / 01:18
    Juan Pablo Montoya and Tony Kanaan were thrilled after the first day at Marlins Park in…
  10. Hundreds of thousands stream into downtown L.A. for massive women's march

    01.21 / 20:59
    Hundreds of thousands of people converged Saturday on downtown Los Angeles to march for women’s rights in one of a series of demonstrations taking place across the country. Participants began gathering at Pershing Square as early as 8 a.m., and by 9:30, protesters appeared to overwhelm the squ…
  11. California marcher: 'I wanted to use my white-straight-Christian woman privilege' to help vulnerable voices be heard

    01.21 / 20:22
    Women's marches live updates: Hundreds of thousands march in L.A. and around the world following Trump's inauguration Jan. 21, 2017, 12:14 p.m. A day after the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, hundreds of thousands nationwide and around the world are marching in support of women's…
  12. Arai releases new Corsair X Maverick Vinales2 replica, new VX-PRO4 Justin Bogle replica - Motorsport
    01.21 / 18:56
    Gear Latest racer replica helmets include new Viñales paint scheme for Corsair X, and a replica VX-PRO4 of RCH/Yoshimura/Suzuki/Factory Racing's Justin Bogle's helmet Arai Helmets announces two new racer replica helmets, the new Corsair X Maverick Viñales 2017 replica, and the VX-PRO4 Justin Bogle r…
  13. Will Ferrari lose its $100m F1 bonus? - Motorsport
    01.21 / 18:07
    With the questions lingering on what changes Liberty Media will make to Formula 1 once it’s controlling interest has been officially acquired later this month, perhaps two lingering big rocks are the hottest topics for the Colorado company—Bernie Ecclestone and Ferrari. Reports suggest that long-time F1 boss Ecclestone could be show the door as early [&#…
  14. Supercross rookie Cooper Webb struggles because of lack of practice - Motorsport
    01.21 / 02:57
    Practice is supposed to lead to perfection.Cooper Webb knows he needs a lot of practice and his first two races in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross season have been far from perfect. The problem is, the 450 premier class rookie has been unable to practice.Blame the atmospheric…
  15. Ecclestone to step down as F1’s chief within days - Motorsport
    01.21 / 01:36
    An article over at Sky Sports F1 says that current Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is set to step down in a matter of weeks from his 40+year reign as the sport’s impresario. The report says that Liberty Media’s takeover of the majority position in F1 will focus on taking its new acquisition into a [&#…
  16. 2017 Triumph Street Cup | First Ride Review - Motorsport
    01.21 / 00:46
    You may have heard, but retro styled, classic bikes are “in” right now, and few, if any, manufacturers do retro better than Triumph. The boys in Hinckley are clearly doing something right; Triumph says sales of its “modern classic” Bonneville line are up 68 percent with the crop of new and revamped models last year. …
  17. Castroneves is feeling like a '19-year-old kid' ahead of Race of Champions

    Indianapolis Star- MotorSport
    01.20 / 23:35
    INDIANAPOLIS — Helio Castroneves walked through the doors beaming, laughing like a kid as he took his seat in a room full of r…
  18. Play ball? Marlins Park turned into a speedway as Race of Champions comes to Miami

    01.20 / 20:43
    Baseball won’t return to Marlins Park until the spring, and by looking at the place now, one would question if the game is actually played there. The domed ballpark, at … Click to Continue »…
  19. Rushlow mum on what he'll sing for the Trumps' inaugural first dance

    01.20 / 18:39
    Inauguration Day live updates: 'Now arrives the hour of action,' Trump declares Jan. 20, 2017, 10:35 a.m. This is our look at President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration: Trump has not signaled that he will try to unify the country Protests in Washington Here's what Democrats are up to The…
  20. Is L.A. on North Korea's target list?

    01.20 / 18:02
    Donald Trump is commander of the American nuclear arsenal, and Kim Jong Un has announced that North Korea is in the “final stage” of perfecting an intercontinental ballistic missile that could travel 5,900 miles, reaching the U.S. West Coast. Is Los Angeles on the target list? The best fra…