When Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida had his turn to interrogate Rex Tillerson on Jan. 11, the senator did not go easy on President-elect Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state (video below).
In the video, posted to YouTube by CBS News, Tillerson says he "would not use that term" when asked if he would classify Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal, and Rubio unloads on him.
"Let me describe the situation in [Aleppo, Syria] and perhaps that will help you reach that conclusion," Rubio responds. "In Aleppo, Mr. Putin has directed his military to conduct a devastating campaign. He's targeted schools, markets, not just assisted Syrians in doing it, his military has targeted schools and markets and other civilian infrastructure. It's resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians."
But the presidential cabinet prospect does not adjust his answer in the video clip, instead telling Rubio that he would like to see "much more information," including that which is classified by U.S. intelligence, before definitively drawing "serious" conclusions and advising the president on the matter.
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Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, has drawn criticism from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers for his close ties to Russia, a country that he has made Exxon deals with many times throughout his career, notes the Associated Press.
"It should not be hard to say that Vladimir Putin's military has conducted war crimes in Aleppo because it is never acceptable, you would agree, for military to specifically target civilians, which is what's happened there, through the Russian military," Rubio shoots back. "And I find it discouraging, your inability to cite that, which I think is globally accepted."
Rubio goes on to tell the candidate that Putin's opponents "wind up dead all over the world" and asks if the occurrences are coincidences. Tillerman again says that he would not comment solely on publicly available information.
"As I indicated, I feel it's important that in advising the president, if confirmed, that I deal with facts, that I deal with sufficient information," the CEO answers. "Which means having access to all information, and I'm sure there's a large body of information that I have never seen that's in the classified realm, I look forward, if confirmed, to becoming fully informed."