In its second day of confirmation hearings, the Senate grilled President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.
During his confirmation hearing, Tillerson was pressed by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) on Exxon Mobil’s lobbying against sanctions. Tillerson responded to the line of questioning saying:
‘I never lobbied against sanctions. To my knowledge, Exxon Mobil never directly lobbied against sanctions.’
Problem is, records show the exact opposite. According to PBS Newshour, Exxon Mobil actively lobbied against sanctions to protect their business interests.
In 2014, sanctions were proposed on Russia after its takeover of Crimea. In response, Exxon lobbied against it. In fact, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) recalled Tillerson calling him at the time. Indeed, Exxon filed a lobbying report, which can be reviewed here.
Furthermore, Exxon also lobbied against sanctions against foreign banks associated with Iran, and a lobbying report was filed, which can be seen here.
Despite lobbying reports existing, Exxon Mobile provided a statement to The Huffington Post saying it “provided information about impact of sanctions, but did not lobby against sanctions.” They also tweeted:
‘Let’s be clear: we engage with lawmakers to discuss sanction impacts, not whether or not sanctions should be imposed.’
Let’s be clear: we engage with lawmakers to discuss sanction impacts, not whether or not sanctions should be imposed
— ExxonMobil (@exxonmobil) January 11, 2017
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) refused to take Tillerson’s denial at face value and commented on the phone call that Corker had recalled. He said, “In your mind, calling a United States senator to express your belief that sanctions are not effective is not lobbying. In my view, that is a distinction without a difference.”
Menendez referred to the physical copies of their lobbying disclosure paperwork saying, “You don’t need a lobbying disclosure form to simply seek information and clarification about a bill. That’s not lobbying. Lobbying specifically is to promote a view of a position.”
However, Tillerson claimed he had never seen the forms remarking, “I haven’t seen the form that you’re holding in your hand. I don’t know whether it indicates we were lobbying for the sanctions or we were lobbying against the sanctions.”
Furthermore, Tillerson has spoke openly in the past about his dislike for sanctions as he found them ineffective. He previously stated at Exxon’s 2014 annual meeting:
‘We do not support sanctions, generally, because we don’t find them to be effective unless they are very well implemented comprehensibly, and that’s a very hard thing to do.”
Additionally, he refused and sidestepped the subject of committing to sanctions on Russia as a response to cyberattacks.
‘It is important that those are dealt with on a country-by-country basis, taking all other elements into consideration in the relationships. Giving the executive the tool is one thing; requiring the executive to use it, without any other considerations, I would have concerns about.’
You can see some of Tillerson’s comments below.
Featured image via Getty Images / Alex Wong.