WASHINGTON — Despite reservations some Capitol Hill Republicans have about Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, other Republican heavy hitters have come out for Trump’s selection, including former Vice President Dick Cheney.
“The selection of Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State is an inspired choice. I’ve known Rex for many years both in his role as the Chairman and CEO of Exxon and as a personal friend. He has the vast experience, ability, and judgment to deal with the very dangerous world we find confronting us. His extensive knowledge of the global situation will be an asset in representing our nation,” Cheney said in a Tuesday statement.
“As the Chairman and CEO of Exxon, he has operated in nations all over the globe, and managed one of our largest corporations. I’m confident that he will do a superb job promoting our national interests in dealing with the complex and difficult choices that are on the agenda for the next administration.”
Democrats, as well as a few Republicans, say that Tillerson’s relationship relating to Exxon’s business deals with Vladimir Putin is not something that will push “American values” to the rest of the world.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio have aired concerns about Tillerson and want to know more about his relationship with the president of Russia.
“It’s a matter of concern to me that he has such a close personal relationship with Vladimir Putin,” McCain said of Tillerson to Talking Points Memo. “And obviously they’ve done enormous deals together and that would color his approach to Vladimir Putin and the Russian threat.”
Graham agreed stating, “I don’t know the man much at all, but let’s put it this way: If you received an award from the Kremlin, [an] Order of Friendship, then we’re gonna have some talkin’,” Graham said. “We’ll have some questions. I don’t want to prejudge the guy, but that’s a bit unnerving.”
Rubio, in a statement released Tuesday, said, “The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, is free of potential conflicts of interest, has a clear sense of America’s interests, and will be a forceful advocate for America’s foreign policy goals to the president, within the administration, and on the world stage.”
He added, however, that he would “ensure [Tillerson] receives a full and fair but also thorough hearing.”
Nevertheless, Tillerson’s Republican supporters continued to surface on Tuesday and do not appear to be shy about their views on the oil executive. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a thumbs up to Tillerson, stating that the oil executive’s “decades of experience have been widely recognized for forward-looking strategic planning, managing international partnerships and risk, and focused leadership around the world.”
McConnell went on to say, “As president-elect Trump’s choice for nomination for Secretary of State, he will bring this critical skills, knowledge and capabilities into an important role after eight years of the Obama administration’s uncertain leadership,” McConnell said confirming he looked forward to supporting Tillerson’s nomination.
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, House Speaker Paul Ryan, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker also heaped praise on Tillerson Tuesday.
George W. Bush’s own Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, called Tillerson an “excellent choice for Secretary of State” adding that, “He will bring to the post remarkable and broad international experience; a deep understanding of the global economy; and a belief in America’s special role in the world.”
“I know Rex as a successful businessman and a patriot. He will represent the interests and the values of the United States with resolve and commitment. And he will lead the exceptional men and women of the State Department with respect and dedication,” Rice said.
Bush’s former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley also praised Trump’s pick, saying that Tillerson is a “strong choice” with “broad experience and established relationships throughout the world.”