Rep. Pete King said Tuesday that Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson was a "good choice" by President-elect Donald Trump as secretary of state but that "obviously his relationship with Russia is going to be a main topic of the Foreign Relations confirmation hearing."
"I am sure the senators will ask him some tough questions," King, the New York Republican, said of members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN.
King is a member of the House of Representatives, which does not vote on presidential nominations. He is a member of the House Homeland Security Committee.
"It will be up to Mr. Tillerson to show that his relationship with Putin and his dealings in Russia actually qualify him to understand more about what's going on in Russia and to be an effective negotiator and a bargainer for the U.S.
"He has to accentuate the positive," King said. "I think he will.
"He has to show that his experience in Russia will be a strong positive for the United States. He also has to show that he can make a global view of the world — and that's country by country."
In responding to concerns raised by Sen. John McCain about Tillerson's dealings with Putin, King acknowledged that the Arizona senator was "accurate on the facts.
"But the facts also are that, as a business leader, as a person in the energy field, Mr. Tillerson would be expected to do business with Russia.
"I am sure he has a cordial business relationship with Putin.
"That's different from being secretary of state and representing your country," King added. "It's two different roles."
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