During his confirmation hearing this morning, Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, faced tough questions from Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and Tillerson refused to say that Vladimir Putin is a war criminal.
Senator Rubio first asked Tillerson about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Tillerson said that the report on Russian hacking is “clearly troubling” and that it’s a “fair assumption” that Putin would have been involved if these actions occurred.
Rubio then asked Tillerson if Vladimir Putin is a war criminal. Tillerson responded, “I would not use that term.”
Rubio proceeded to describe the situation in Aleppo, Syria, including the bombings of hospitals and killing of thousands of civilians. Tillerson still said the he would want to have “much more information” before saying whether Putin committed war crimes. Rubio said that he finds this answer “discouraging.”
The Florida senator also entered into the record a list of journalists and political opponents of Putin’s who were killed under suspicious circumstances.
“Are you aware that people who oppose Vladimir Putin wind up dead all over the world…?” Rubio asked.
Tillerson said that he would need more information before blaming this on Putin.
“None of this is classified, Mr. Tillerson,” Rubio responded. “These people are dead.”
A few minutes later, Tillerson said that he and Donald Trump have not discussed U.S. policy towards Russia. Senator Bob Menendez responded to this by saying, “That’s pretty amazing.”