Rubio rips Tillerson’s confirmation performance

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP lawmakers request Cuba meeting with Biden Bipartisan congressional commission urges IOC to postpone, relocate Beijing Games Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks 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 TrumpCuban embassy in Paris attacked by gasoline bombs Trump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios Trump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race 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.”