Rex Tillerson came into this morning’s confirmation hearing probably expecting some pushback from the Democrats that sit on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. Surely, he came in prepared for that. He may not have expected the hard line of questioning coming from his own side of the aisle, however. Marco Rubio wasn’t giving Tillerson a pass and that became very apparent early on.
Rubio asked Tillerson flat out;
‘Is Vladamir Putin a war criminal?’
Tillerson replied — ‘I would not use that term.’
In other words, ‘no.’
Rubio went on to explain to the Secretary of State nominee what has happened in Aleppo. Rubio didn’t need to go to any ‘classified information’ but instead simply relied on information in the public domain. Information Tillerson could have accessed at any time. Rubio listed how Putin has directed his military to target schools, markets, and other civilian targets. Rubio also made a point that this was hardly the first time Putin had used such criminal actions. The Florida Senator went over how Putin had done similar things in Chechnya.
Tillerson kept trying to hide behind the ‘I haven’t seen classified information’ repeatedly. Rubio repeatedly corrected him and told the nominee that all this information is publicly available and that ‘none of this is classified’ in his schooling of the surprisingly uninformed Tillerson. One would think that Tillerson might have at least some familiarity with it not only in his preparation for this hearing but just as CEO of Exxon-Mobil as these conflicts and events would matter to a businessman doing business in the region. One might say it was his ‘business to know.’
At the end of the interview, a flustered Rubio once again reminded Tillerson that ‘none of this is classified’ and there really wasn’t much else to know other than ‘these people are dead.’
Tillerson was equally as evasive earlier in the interview (included in the clip below) when dodging questions about sanctions over cybersecurity breaches. Attacks that our intelligence agencies all agree ‘with high confidence’ came from the Russians. Furthermore, Tillerson seemed to show not one ounce of concern, empathy or care over various political opponents that Putin has jailed and killed. Rubio concluded his questioning by having the names of all those people put into the record.
Check out the fiery exchange between the Exxon-Mobil chief and Marco Rubio below;
Featured image via screen capture via youtube.com