Arizona Sen. John McCain said Saturday that he had "concerns" that ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson had deep ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin amid reports that President-elect Donald Trump planned to nominate him as Secretary of State.
"You have to examine it," McCain told CNN just before the start of the Army-Navy Game in Baltimore.
"You want to give the president of the United States the benefit of the doubt because the people have spoken — but Vladimir Putin is a thug, a bully and a murderer, and anybody who describes him as anything else is lying."
NBC News reported that Tillerson, 64, would be nominated by Trump, citing individuals close to the transition team.
He has ties to Putin dating back nearly two decades. In 2013, Moscow awarded him the Order of Friendship — and he visited with Putin's inner circle two years later.
In 2011, Tillerson signed an agreement with Russia allowing ExxonMobil to drill in the Arctic Ocean valued by as much as $300 billion, The Telegraph reports.
"We cannot have an accommodation with the Russians until they understand what Ronald Reagan taught them and that is peace through strength," McCain said. "Right now, we have no peace and we have no strength.
"I don't know what Mr. Tillerson's relationship with Vladimir Putin was," McCain said, "but I'll tell you it is a matter of concern to me."
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