- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that he will support confirmation of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, as Republican support for the pick solidified despite concerns about his close business ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Rex Tillerson’s decades of experience have been widely recognized for forward-looking strategic planning, managing international partnerships and risk, and focused leadership around the world,” said Mr. McConnell, who previously declined to comment on anticipation of President-elect Donald Trump’s pick.

“He will bring these critical skills, knowledge and capabilities into an important role after eight years of the Obama administration’s uncertain leadership,” the Kentucky Republican said. “We need a full review of our national security policy, and I know Rex will face each problem head on with American interests and security as his top priority. I look forward to supporting his nomination.”

Mr. McConnell’s wife, Elaine L. Chao, has been nominated by Mr. Trump for transpiration secretary.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican leader, also got behind the Tillerson nomination.

“Rex Tillerson’s successful tenure leading a large multinational corporation reflects a keen ability to navigate complex geopolitical issues across the globe,” he said. “His experience will be critical as the next secretary of state will face a broad array of diplomatic challenges that will define the security and success of our nation for generations. A lifelong Texan, I’ve long valued Rex’s insight and look forward to supporting his nomination.”

Mr. Tillerson, however, has encountered sharp criticism from both sides of the aisle over his connection to Mr. Putin, whose presence loomed over the presidential campaigns and now the White House transition.

Mr. Tillerson also faces resistance from the left, with environmental groups up in arms over placing someone they consider a “Big Oil polluter” and “climate change denier” in charge of U.S. foreign policy.

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