Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHouse passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure Senators call for answers from US firm over reported use of forced Uyghur labor in China Republicans would need a promotion to be 'paper tigers' MORE (R-Fla.) hasn’t decided yet whether he will support Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new social media network called 'TRUTH Social' Virginia State Police investigating death threat against McAuliffe Meadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report MORE's nominee for secretary of State.
Through three rounds of questioning that frequently became tense, Rubio tore into Tillerson for not clearly declaring countries as human rights violators, standing up for human rights and sufficiently criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking with reporters after his third round of questions, Rubio said he had not been swayed one way or another on Tillerson.
“It’s clear that I’m concerned about some of his answers, and I’m encouraged by a few others. But obviously, I want to go back and think through this a little bit,” Rubio said, adding that he will submit some follow-up questions in writing to Tillerson.
Rubio would nearly certainly be the swing vote on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee if he votes against Tillerson, which would kill Tillerson’s nomination and prevent it from going to the full Senate for a vote.
Asked if he was leaning one way or the other on the former Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO, Rubio said, “I wouldn’t characterize it that way quite yet.”
“Many of his answers were concerning to me,” he said. “We’ll go back and I’ll consider everything. I’ll make a decision here very soon.”
Rubio said the most concerning answers focus on what he characterized as a need for “moral clarity” in the United States’ foreign policy, which he fears could fall to the wayside.
“I don’t want to see us move toward a foreign policy in which human rights only matters when nothing else matters,” Rubio told reporters.
He also found many reasons to compliment Tillerson and his dedication to service.
“This is a fine, upstanding man, with good character and good intentions, who legitimately wants to serve his country,” he said.
Rubio ran for president in the 2016 election. He was a harsh critic of Trump, even when he dropped out of the race, but came to endorse him in April.