Sen. John McCain blasted the likely secretary of state nominee of President-elect Donald Trump Saturday, saying he’s concerned about Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson’s close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I don’t know what Mr. Tillerson’s relationship with Vladimir Putin was, but I’ll tell you it is a matter of concern to me,” McCain said Saturday during an interview with Fox News.
“You want to give the president of the United States the benefit of the doubt because the people have spoken. But Vladimir Putin is a thug, a bully and a murderer, and anybody else who describes him as anything else is lying,” he added.
NBC News reported Saturday that Trump had chosen Tillerson to be his secretary of state, though the campaign has yet to make an official announcement.
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Tillerson managed the relationship between the company and the Kremlin as an Exxon executive. He struck a deal that allowed ExxonMobil to access Arctic resources in Russia in 2011.
So far, McCain is the first Republican senator to raise objections to Tillerson, and if just three more joined him and a united Democratic front, Tillerson’s nomination could be blocked.
Mark Salter, a former top Senate aide, said Friday that he believes Tillerson would have an extremely difficult time getting though the Senate confirmation process — if he could at all.
“Tillerson would sell out NATO for Sakhalin oil and his pal, Vlad. Should be a rough confirmation hearing, and a no vote on the Senate floor,” he tweeted Friday.
Tillerson would sell out NATO for Sakhalin oil and his pal, Vlad. Should be a rough confirmation hearing, and a no vote on the Senate floor. https://t.co/cZmA3swddK
— Mark Salter (@MarkSalter55) December 9, 2016
Top Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher were also on Trump’s shortlist to be secretary of state.
Watch McCain’s comments with Fox below: