Senate

Rand Paul: I’ll keep ‘open mind’ on Tillerson

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says he’ll approach President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of State with an open mind.

Trump on Tuesday nominated ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to become the nation’s top diplomat, but he may face a tough confirmation fight due to deep skepticism in the Senate over his ties to Russia.

{mosads}“I’m keeping an open mind. What I’ve said all along is that I agree with Donald Trump that nation-building hasn’t made us safer, [that] it’s been very expensive and hasn’t worked,” Paul told on Fox News’s “America’s News HQ” Tuesday.

“Regime change hasn’t worked in the Middle East. The Iraq War was a strategic failure. I want someone who agrees with Donald Trump on those key issues. I think those questions are open and I’m willing to find out what Tillerson has to say on those issues. If he embraces Donald Trump’s vision and worldview on that, I’d be fine with that.”

Paul is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which must greenlight Tillerson’s nomination before a full Senate vote.

There are 10 Republicans and nine Democrats on the committee — meaning any “no” vote by a Republican could block Tillerson, assuming all Democrats also oppose him.

Paul said he distinguishes between Tillerson’s business background and his potential role leading the State Department.

“Being a CEO, your job is to further your company and make deals with people who have natural resources around the world,” he said.

“Being secretary of State, it’s about diplomacy, it’s about negotiation and it’s about conversation. The fact that he’s had many conversations with world leaders would be, I think, a plus, with regard to having those conversation.”

Tillerson has repeatedly conducted business in Russia. According to The Wall Street Journal, Tillerson negotiated an energy partnership with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2011 that Putin said could be worth $500 billion.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another Foreign Relations Committee member, on Tuesday said he has “serious concerns” about Tillerson.

Tags Cabinet Congress Donald Trump Exxon Mobil Marco Rubio Rand Paul Republicans Senate State Department
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