Marco Rubio trashes Secretary of State nominee Tillerson over ties to Putin
Marco Rubio arguably got it worse than any of Donald Trump’s opponents during the GOP primary. Treated like a child by the party’s eventual nominee, Rubio was so badly bruised by his loss he mulled quitting politics altogether before eventually running for reelection in the Senate and narrowly beating his Democratic opponent. He swallowed what little pride he had left and endorsed Trump at the Republican National Convention, but the Combover Kid is finally getting his revenge by sticking it to the future commander-in-chief’s nominee for secretary of state, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson.
Rubio had previously expressed “serious concerns” about Tillerson serving as the U.S.’s top diplomat, specifically because of the CEO’s many business ties to Russia and close relationship with Vladimir Putin. “Being a ‘friend of Vladimir’ is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #SecretaryOfState,” Rubio tweeted in December, referring to the “Order of Friendship” honor Putin personally bestowed upon Tillerson because of Exxon’s many contracts with the Russian state.
So at Tillerson’s Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, Lil’ Marco came out swinging.
Rubio: “Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?”
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 11, 2017
Tillerson said he would not use the term “war criminal” to describe Putin, and so Rubio decided to read accounts of all the reported atrocities committed by the Russian army and forces Moscow supports in Syria that Rubio stated have resulted in more than 300,000 deaths. Further, Rubio introduced a list of names of political journalists allegedly murdered by the Russian government for speaking out against Putin. Tillerson responded that he would need to see “what facts exist in the classified domain before making decisions and drawing conclusions,” according to CNN.
“None of this is classified Mr. Tillerson,” Rubio said. “These people are dead.”
Earlier in the exchange, Rubio got Tillerson to admit that, in light of accusations made by the intelligence community that Russia was behind the hacking of the DNC and John Podesta’s emails, it is unlikely that Putin didn’t know and authorize the cyberattack.
“I think that’s a fair assumption,” Tillerson responded.
It’s unlikely that Rubio’s grilling of Tillerson will keep him from getting the appointment, but not impossible. Assuming all Democrats on the committee vote “no” on Tillerson, only three Republicans are needed to prevent Tillerson from being approved, and Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain have all expressed serious reservations about his appointment.
Watch Rubio’s full exchange with Tillerson below.