10:39 GMT +307 December 2019
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    Chairman and CEO of US oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, speaks during the 2015 Oil and Money conference in central London on October 7, 2015

    Tillerson Stance on Russia to Face Fierce Scrutiny in Confirmation Hearings

    © AFP 2019 / BEN STANSALL
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    President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for US secretary of state Rex Tillerson will face intense questioning in confirmation hearings this week regarding his potential policy towards Russia, former diplomat and adviser to Senate Republican leaders Jim Jatras told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The former Exxon Mobil chief is set for confirmation hearings in front of the Senate on Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes Tillerson is successfully confirmed before Trump is inaugurated on January 20.

    “It is extraordinary that Trump would pick a time to nominate a figure known for his open attitude toward Russia just as it appears elements of the CIA are conniving with the anti-Trump media,” Jatras said on Monday.

    Tillerson is certain to face fierce opposition in the confirmation process, Jatras predicted, because of his extensive business dealings with Moscow, his award of the Order of Friendship by President Vladimir Putin, and what seems to be his personal cordiality with the Russian leader.

    Tillerson “will be opposed by those who think anything less than full-throated, uncompromising hostility to Russia constitutes appeasement and betrayal of American values. Unfortunately, that includes a very substantial number of Senators of both parties,” Jatras said.

    Trump’s determination to have Tillerson as his secretary of state and “vicar” or guiding leader of US foreign policy confirms the seriousness of his commitment to improve relations with Russia and explains the determination of Trump’s critics to block the nomination, Jatras insisted.

    “The selection of Tillerson projects seriousness of purpose,” Jatras explained. “Just as during the campaign Trump refused to back down on voicing his intention to improve ties with Russia… when he was excoriated for it by virtually the whole bipartisan establishment.”

    Trump’s hawkish enemies remain determined to delegitimize his electoral victory as the fruit of Russian meddling, Jatras warned.

    Therefore, Tillerson’s record and dealings “will be subject to minute and harsh scrutiny,” he predicted.

    However, it will prove very difficult for Trump’s enemies to cast Tillerson in the role of a naive dupe because of the high level endorsements he has already received, Jatras claimed.

    “Noteworthy is [Tillerson’s] endorsement by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. This hardly suggests someone who will be a pushover for Moscow or anyone else,” Jatras argued.

    Tillerson resigned from his position as CEO of oil giant Exxon Mobil on December 31.


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