A new face has emerged to oppose some of the most incendiary parts of Donald Trump’s incoming presidential administration.
Florida’s U.S. Senator Marco Rubio questioned Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, during Tillerson’s Wednesday morning confirmation hearings, and the Sunshine State’s Senator was brutal.
Rubio used his time at bat to force Tillerson into a corner over his ties to Russia, ties that run many years and hundreds of billions of dollars deep.
Tillerson’s old job is CEO of the oil giant Exxon Mobil. In that capacity, he worked with Russia, and more specifically, Vladimir Putin, for years on an oil exploration deal estimated to be worth at least 500 billion dollars. That deal was put on hold when the U.S. slapped Russia with sanctions over their invasion of the Crimean peninsula.
One of Rubio’s initial Wednesday morning questions was straightforward.
“Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?” the Florida Senator asked Tillerson.
And the former CEO’s answer wasn’t exactly reassuring for persons concerned with the possibility that the U.S. government turns into a puppet for former Soviet secret police head Vladimir Putin.
Tillerson replied, “I would not use that term.”
Rubio promptly showed up Trump’s Secretary of State pick.
The Florida Senator replied back at Tillerson:
‘Well let me describe the situation in Aleppo and perhaps that will help you reach that conclusion. Mr. Putin has directed his military to conduct a devastating campaign… not just assisted the Syrians in doing it. His military has targeted schools and markets, and other civilian infrastructure. This has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians.’
Rubio concluded by confronting Tillerson again:
‘Based on all this information, and what’s publicly on the record about what’s happened in Aleppo, are you still not prepared to say that Vladimir Putin and his military… have conducted war crimes in Aleppo?’
Tillerson said no, adding again that he “needs more information” before reaching a conclusion.
Rubio also pressed the Secretary of State nominee over the serious allegations that Putin directed the murder of “tens of dissidents, journalists, and political opposition figures.” Tillerson replied similiarly to him being confronted over Putin’s activities in Aleppo, saying again that he “would have to have more information,” and adding, disturbingly, of the deaths that “these things happen.”
Rubio: did Putin "order the murder of countless journalists and political opponents?" Tillerson: "I would have to have more information."
— Mark MacKinnon (@markmackinnon) January 11, 2017
Tillerson on Russian journalists/dissidents being killed: "These things happen"
— Eric Katz (@EricM_Katz) January 11, 2017
Rubio, notably, ran an almost successful presidential campaign during the Republican primary season, before getting knocked out of the race by Donald Trump and, to a lesser extent, Ted Cruz.
Watch a video portion of some of Rubio’s questioning below.
— POLITICO (@politico) January 11, 2017
Featured Image via Win McNamee/Getty Images.