Marco Rubio Says He Will Support Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State Despite Reservations

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) questions witnesses during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on “Russia’s intelligence activities" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) questions witnesses during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on “Russia’s intelligence activities” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio reluctantly threw his support behind Rex Tillerson’s nomination for secretary of State on Monday, clearing the way for the former ExxonMobil CEO to become America’s top diplomat.

“Given the uncertainty that exists both at home and abroad about the direction of our foreign policy, it would be against our national interests to have this confirmation unnecessarily delayed or embroiled in controversy,” Rubio wrote in a lengthy Facebook post. “Therefore, despite my reservations, I will support Mr. Tillerson’s nomination in committee and in the full Senate.”

Rubio is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is now expected to report out a favorable recommendation for confirmation when it meets Monday afternoon. Republicans hold a one-seat advantage on the panel, so a “no” vote would have blemished — though not torpedoed — President Trump’s choice to run the State Department.

Rubio had expressed deep misgivings about Tillerson’ ties to Russia and President Vladimir Putin, with whom he had cultivated and long and friendly relationship through his business dealings.

During a sometimes tense confirmation hearing earlier this month, Rubio called Tillerson’s answers “troubling” and “discouraging” when he refused to commit to tougher steps against Russia in the wake of the country’s well-documented interference in the recent presidential election.

He had also seemed frustrated when Tillerson would not agree with the senator that Putin was a “war criminal” for Russia’s actions in Syria.

In his statement Monday, Rubio aired some of his ongoing concerns about confirming the former oilman:

“Mr. Tillerson is likely to have a potentially unprecedented level of influence over the direction of our foreign policy. I remain concerned that in the years to come, our country will not give the defense of democracy and human rights the priority they deserve, and will pursue a foreign policy that too often sets aside our values and our historic alliances in pursuit of flawed geopolitical deals.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Ledyard King