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Rex Tillerson secretary of state confirmation hearing begins

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 11: Rex Tillerson (C) sits in on his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on January 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. Mr. Tillerson hearing is in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

[Update: 10:57 a.m.]

Rex Tillerson staked out positions on Russia Wednesday that sharply contrast with President-elect Donald Trump, who tapped the former CEO of ExxonMobil to be secretary of state. He told senators grilling him at his confirmation hearing that he found the US intelligence community’s recent report laying out accusations of Russian efforts to hack US political groups to disrupt the 2016 election “troubling” and indicated that cyberbreaches and leaking of stolen email to undermine the democratic process indeed “were undertaken.” Tillerson told Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio that it was “a fair assumption” that Russian President Vladimir Putin knew and authorized hacking involving U.S. political organizations. Trump has expressed skepticism about those conclusions. He also said he would have supported providing defensive arms to Ukraine after Moscow’s seizure of Crimea, and he spoke to the potential usefulness of sanctioning the Russians, both policies at odds with previous statements by Trump. Tillerson indicated, however, that at this time he would not describe Putin as a war criminal, citing a desire to review and reflect further on the information available.

[Update: 10:43 a.m.]

Rex Tillerson staked out positions on Russia Wednesday that sharply contrast with President-elect Donald Trump, who tapped the former CEO of ExxonMobil to be secretary of state. He told senators grilling him at his confirmation hearing that he found the US intelligence community’s recent report laying out accusations of Russian efforts to hack US political groups to disrupt the 2016 election “troubling” and indicated that cyberbreaches and leaking of stolen email to undermine the democratic process indeed “were undertaken.” Tillerson told Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio that it was “a fair assumption” that Russian President Vladimir Putin knew and authorized hacking involving U.S. political organizations. Trump has expressed skepticism about those conclusions. He also said he would have supported providing defensive arms to Ukraine after Moscow’s seizure of Crimea and sanctions against the Russians imposed as a result, both policies at odds with previous statements by Trump. Tillerson indicated, however, that at this time he would not describe Putin as a war criminal, citing a desire to review and reflect further on the information available.

[Update: 10:09 a.m.]

Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil who has been nominated to be President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state, spoke of the threats posed by Moscow as he called for “open and frank dialogue with Russia regarding its ambitions” at his confirmation hearing Wednesday. “Russia today poses a danger,” he said. “Our NATO allies are right to be alarmed at a resurgent Russia.” “Where cooperation with Russia based on common interests is possible, such as reducing the global threat of terrorism, we ought to explore these options,” he said. “Where important differences remain, we should be steadfast in defending the interests of America and her allies.” Russia, he said, “must know that we will be accountable to our commitments and those of our allies, and that Russia must be held to account for its actions.” Several senators have expressed concerns about the relationship both Tillerson and Trump have with Russia. In his opening statement, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s ranking Democrat, Ben Cardin of Maryland, knocked the businessman for not addressing allegations of Russia election-related hacking among other accusations of malfeasance by Moscow in his prepared remarks.

[Update: 10:04 a.m.]

Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil who has been selected as President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state, on Wednesday criticized his predecessors in his opening statement before the Senate panel considering his nomination. “We have stumbled. In recent decades, we have cast American leadership into doubt. In some instances, we have withdrawn from the world,” he said. “Our adversaries have been emboldened to take advantage of this absence of American leadership.” That span of time includes both Republican and Democratic administrations. Tillerson faulted the Obama administration for being willing “to ignore violations of international accords, as we have done with Iran,” and “to accept empty promises like the ones China has made to pressure North Korea to reform.” He also said allies must deliver as well. “We must hold our allies accountable to commitments they make. We cannot look the other way at allies who do not meet their obligations.”

[Update: 9:05 a.m.]

The Senate confirmation hearing has begun for President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to be secretary of state. Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson will be appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee all day today and possibly again tomorrow. Democratic senators plan to question Tillerson about his ties to Russia during the time he was leading the international oil giant.