By Bob Plain on December 13, 2016
It’s fair to say Rhode Island’s congressional delegation is concerned with President-elect Donald Trump tapping ExxonMobile chexecutive Rex Tillerson to serve as secretary of state.
Senator Jack Reed said he has “serious concerns.” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said he has “deep concerns.” Congressman Langevin said he has “significant concerns” and Congressman David Cicilline said, “The American people have a right to be deeply concerned.”
The four Democrats’ concern stems from either Tillerson’s ties to Russia and/or his ties to corporate America. Trump announced this morning he will put Tillerson up for nomination. Because Tillerson has ties to Russia and the CIA suspects Russia meddled with the election in an effort to benefit Trump, Tillerson could face a difficult Senate confirmation process.
Below are the full statements from each member of the delegation.
Senator Jack Reed:
“I have serious concerns about Mr. Tillerson’s nomination, and it serves as a reminder of the need to quickly and thoroughly investigate Russia’s campaign to subvert our election and our country’s interests.
“Our nation’s top diplomat should be someone who stands up for America’s best interests, but Mr. Tillerson’s profession has been putting Exxon Mobil’s bottom line above all else. He even opposed U.S. sanctions against Russia after the country’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 because his multinational oil company stood to lose Russian contracts.
“It is troubling that the President-elect continues to fill his cabinet with people who will blur the lines between corporate interests and America’s national interests, and put profits ahead of people.
“Mr. Tillerson deserves a fair confirmation process and I am sure he’ll face some tough questions from both Democrats and Republicans. I look forward to learning more about his views, background, and plans to prevent his personal conflicts of interest from interfering with his role as Secretary of State.”
Congressman David Cicilline:
“Once again, Donald Trump is revealing that his campaign for the presidency was nothing more than a long con of the American people. Rather than ‘draining the swamp,’ he is stocking his Cabinet with the same Wall Street billionaires and wealthy special interests he condemned over the last two years.”
“What’s worse is that, just days after it was revealed that Russian intelligence operatives are apparently still in possession of stolen Republican campaign emails, President-elect Trump has selected a Secretary of State with deep ties to Vladimir Putin’s regime and zero foreign policy experience.”
“Rex Tillerson advanced Exxon business interests in Russia, he opposed President Obama’s sanctions after Russia invaded Crimea, and Putin personally awarded him one of Russia’s highest honors for foreigners – the Order of Friendship.
“We are in uncharted waters. The American people have a right to be deeply concerned about potential Russian influence over the decision-making of the incoming administration.”
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse:
“Donald Trump pledged to ‘drain the swamp’ of corporate insiders in Washington to ensure that our government serves the American people, not massive corporations like ExxonMobil. That’s why it’s disturbing to see operatives of the Koch brothers, Exxon, and other special interests fill the ranks of the transition team, and the biggest swamp alligators floated as nominees to run federal agencies. I also have deep concerns about this nominee’s ties with Russia at a time when our allies in Europe depend upon international economic sanctions to deter Russia’s further violations of international law.”
Congressman Jim Langevin:
“Another day, another alarming Cabinet pick from President-elect Trump. I have significant concerns about the selection of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Not only does he lack any policy or diplomacy experience, but he has extensive business interests in Russia and a friendly relationship with Putin, having been awarded an Order of Friendship in 2013. At the same time we are discussing Russian interference in our electoral process – interference in our very democracy – Mr. Trump puts forth a candidate with documented ties to Moscow. It is a disconcerting choice, to be sure, and I hope that my colleagues in the Senate fully explore his background and his vision for our nation’s foreign policy.”