Lawmakers on Wednesday were deeply divided over whether President-elect Trump's pick for Secretary of State, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson would be right for the job, with many senators raising concerns about his overly cozy ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"There is so much info out there. It should not be hard to say that Vladimir Putin is a war criminal. I find it discouraging that you are not able to say that," said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., at Tillerson's confirmation hearing, referring to concerns about Russia's involvement in the battle over Syria's largest city, Aleppo.
In addition to Rubio, a former Republican primary candidate, a number lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, interrupted periodically by protesters, raised concerns that Tillerson has an overly cozy relationship with Putin and Moscow-controlled oil giant Rosneft.
In 2013, Tillerson was awarded the "Order of Friendship" award by the Kremlin, a top honor for civilians. Tillerson had previously said that he has had a close relationship with Putin since 1999.
However, at his confirmation hearing, Tillerson provided a mixed view of how he expects to see U.S.-Russian relations if he becomes Secretary of State. He suggested that Russia "poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests."
Tillerson indicated that he supports NATO and acknowledged that Russia has invaded Ukraine and supported Syrian forces that "brutally violate the laws of war." However, in response to concerns raised by lawmakers that Putin is a war criminal, Tillerson said that he would be able to make that judgment only after receiving classified briefings suggesting as much.