McCain voices concerns about Tillerson's ties to Putin

McCain voices concerns about Tillerson's ties to Putin

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainKelly holds double-digit lead over McSally in Arizona: poll Montana barrels toward blockbuster Senate fight How Obama just endorsed Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) is raising concerns about President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Barr says he didn't give 'tactical' command to clear Lafayette protesters MORE's pick for secretary of State.

McCain on Tuesday told NPR he has questions about Rex Tillerson's ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
 
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"I have concerns about what kind of business we do with a butcher, a murderer and a thug, which is exactly what Vladimir Putin is," he said.
 
McCain tore into Putin for his "outrageous" actions in support of Syrian president Bashar Assad.
 
"What's really egregious is now the precision strikes that Russian aircraft are dropping — precision weapons on hospitals in Aleppo. There is no depths that these people won't plummet," he said, adding that he knows for a fact Russia is using precision weapons.
 
Asked about the criticism of Tillerson for his connections to Putin, McCain said he will use his confirmation hearing to raise these questions. 
 
"I think it depends on whether he condones the behavior that I just talked about. Did he ever raise those issues with Vladimir Putin? Is it strictly business?" McCain said.
 
"I think these are legitimate questions. By the way, I am not making a judgment about Mr. Tillerson. I will wait and the questions will be asked. That's why we have hearings, advise and consent and I will withhold judgment."
 
Tillerson's close ties to Putin have prompted some critics to raise concerns about his nomination.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Tillerson negotiated an energy partnership with Putin in 2011 that the Russian president said could be worth $500 billion.

The following year, Tillerson received the Russian Order of Friendship, one of the highest awards the country bestows upon foreign nationals.

Tillerson could face a very close confirmation vote. With Republicans controlling 52 seats in the Senate, he can't afford to lose more than two GOP "yes" votes, assuming all Democrats oppose his nomination.