Tags: Jeff Merkley | Tillerson | Oil Executive | Statesman

Sen. Jeff Merkley: Tillerson Sounds Like an Oil Executive, Not a Statesman

("Morning Joe"/YouTube)

By    |   Friday, 13 Jan 2017 09:29 AM

Secretary of State-nominee Rex Tillerson offered "one disturbing commentary after the other," Sen. Jeff Merkley said Friday while explaining why he'll vote against the Exxon Mobil chairman's bid to join President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet.

"He was testifying as an oil executive, not as a leader among the free world, or the person to guide the United States in bringing the world together," the Oregon Democrat, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.

Tillerson, he continued, was not "able to kind of put his hands around the problem of barrel bombs in Aleppo, or propping up the dictator in Equatorial Guinea or bypassing our sanctions on Russia."

The nominee did seem to understand the importance of NATO, said Merkley.

"Members of NATO are nervous, very disturbed, not sure that the incoming president understands Article 5," said Merkley, and are wondering if Trump is "going to stand up when there is a problem or understands the nations that have recently come into NATO, that we're going to be there with Latvia and Lithuania."

Merkley said he was glad to hear Tillerson say he considers Article 5 invaluable.

"When I spoke to him in my office and asked him about how he would respond if Russia were to invade those states, he said I'm surprised it didn't happen already," said Merkley, and he believes Tillerson got some good briefings before the committee hearings began.

He said he also got the sense that Tillerson is "very cautious" about Trump's call to undo the Iran nuclear accord.

"He's going to see how it's performing, pondering, go back and do a little bit of interagency conversations," said Merkley. "It's a tentative situation, I would say."

Meanwhile, although Vice President-elect Mike Pence has been on Capitol Hill, Merkley said he hasn't seen him yet.

"He seems to be focused to bringing the Republican Party together, to a vision of how they're going to move forward on health care, move forward on taxes," said the Wyoming senator. "But the outreach to the Democratic side, not yet.

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Secretary of State-nominee Rex Tillerson offered "one disturbing commentary after the other," Sen. Jeff Merkley said Friday while explaining why he'll vote against the Exxon Mobil chairman's bid to join President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet.
Jeff Merkley, Tillerson, Oil Executive, Statesman
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2017-29-13
Friday, 13 Jan 2017 09:29 AM
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