Rubio rips Tillerson’s confirmation performance

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioLimbaugh falsely says Biden didn't win legitimately while reacting to inauguration NRSC chair says he'll back GOP incumbents against Trump primary challengers Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official MORE (R-Fla.) blasted Rex Tillerson’s performance at his confirmation hearing Wednesday, telling the secretary of State nominee as the hearing wound down that he had not answered several of Rubio’s questions to his standards.

“In order to have moral clarity, we need clarity,” Rubio said. “We can’t achieve moral clarity with rhetorical ambiguity."

Rubio asked Tillerson about a range of topics on Wednesday, trying to get his opinions on, among other things, Russian President Vladimir Putin, China and human rights violations in the Philippines and Saudi Arabia.

But as the day wound down, Rubio said he didn’t get the answers he wanted.


“Today, I’ve been unable to get you to acknowledge that the attacks on Aleppo were conducted by Russia,” he said.

“Somehow you are unaware of what is happening in the Philippines, that you are not prepared to label what’s happening in China and Saudi Arabia, a country that, my understanding is, you are very familiar of.”

Rubio’s support is critical for Tillerson. Republicans hold a one-seat edge in the Foreign Affairs Committee, and President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE needs his vote there to get Tillerson’s nomination to the floor without invoking special Senate procedure.

If Tillerson makes it to the floor and Democrats unite against him, the GOP can only afford to lose three votes in order to send the former Exxon Mobil chief to Foggy Bottom. If Rubio votes against him either in committee or on the floor, it will a roadblock to his confirmation.

Rubio did not signal how he will eventually vote on Tillerson’s nomination, but he said Wednesday he has high standards for any eventual secretary of State.

“I have no questions about your character, your patriotism. You don’t need this job, you didn’t campaign for this job,” he told Tillerson. “But I also told you when we met that the position you have been nominated to is, in my opinion, the second most important position in the U.S. government.”

Rubio added, “You gave the need for a lot more information in order to comment on some of these. I understand that, this is a big world and there’s a lot of topics; these are not obscure areas.”