On Wednesday, Sen. John McCain delivered the perfect response when he was asked by reporters if he would support President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.
McCain said about supporting Tillerson:
‘Sure — there’s also a realistic scenario that pigs fly.’
McCain’s spokeswoman, Rachel Dean, later clarified that the Arizona senator was joking when he made the comment. She did not, however, deny that McCain is not fully supportive of Tillerson’s nomination.
‘He has repeatedly said that he has concerns regarding Mr. Tillerson’s nomination, but has made no decision.’
McCain has been critical of Tillerson’s nomination ever since it was announced due to the ExxonMobil CEO’s close ties to Russia. In numerous interviews, McCain has questioned Tillerson’s relationship with Vladimir Putin, whom he has called a “thug” and a “murderer.”
During an interview with CNN, shortly after Tillerson was announced as Trump’s secretary of state pick, McCain explained his concerns as follows:
‘I do have some legitimate, I think, concerns about Mr. Tillerson. I believe that after Ukraine, he opposed the sanctions that were put on Russia. He has a very close relationship with Vladimir Putin. By the way, he was given an award by Vladimir Putin. It was sanctioned by Vladimir Putin. That concerns me a great deal.
‘Frankly, I would never accept an award from Vladimir Putin because then you kind of give some credence and credibility to this butcher, this KGB agent, which is what he is.’
While Tillerson has been viewed negatively by some prominent Senate Republicans, including McCain, Marco Rubio, and Lindsey Graham, there are plenty of others who are still on his side, including Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker. Corker, who has worked hard to convince Senate Democrats of Tillerson’s qualifications, said about the hesitancy surrounding the nomination:
‘People understand he’s a distinguished individual, he really is. If people can get comfortable with where he is, he could in fact have an overwhelming vote.’
Perhaps it is because he is more palatable than some of Donald Trump’s other secretary of state candidates, such as Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton, but some Senate Democrats have, surprisingly, expressed cautious optimism about Tillerson, who has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill to assure congressional leaders that he is fit for the job.
Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, for example, explained that he was “encouraged about his clarity around the difference in the role between being CEO of an oil company and secretary of state.”
Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin was also impressed by Tillerson’s belief in science, something many Republicans seem to struggle with. Cardin said that Tillerson “stressed … his background in science and that he was a believer in science.”
Cardin also explained that he and Tillerson “had a long conversation on what we need to do in countries where extreme poverty has denied many people access to energy.”
With Senate Democrats cautiously on his side, Tillerson may find it easy to secure his place as secretary of state, despite Senator McCain’s (hilarious) protests.
Featured image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.