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Udall Statement On Opposing Confirmation Of Rex Tillerson As Secretary of State

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Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
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US Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)

Commentary: U.S. Senator Tom Udall yesterday evening joined Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in opposing the confirmation of former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, President Trump's nominee to serve as U.S. Secretary of State. He made the following statement: 

"While I believe Rex Tillerson sincerely wants to serve our country, his answers to questions in his confirmation hearing, our personal meeting and in writing give me enough reason for concern that I can't support his confirmation. I'm particularly uneasy about his lack of experience and his inability to give informed answers on many issues of concern to the United States and the American people.

"The Secretary of State is not just a negotiator, he or she must be a strong and principled voice for diplomacy and American democratic ideals, including civil liberties, such as freedom of religion and of the press. But in his answers to questions in his confirmation hearing and in writing, Mr. Tillerson has not given me the confidence that he is able to be that forceful voice for American values.

"While he separated himself from some of President Trump's extreme statements, Mr. Tillerson's answers were ambiguous when asked about whether he would acknowledge human rights abuses in Syria and the Philippines, what he believes is the role for the United States in the fight against global warming, and whether he would abide by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, among other issues.

"I was even more disturbed by his lack of candor about ExxonMobil's lobbying effort against U.S. sanctions in Iran and other nations. And he simply didn't answer my question about whether he would take a call from his successor at Exxon about issues that affect the oil and gas industry overseas or other corporate interests -- or whether he would permit Exxon to lobby the State Department employees he supervises directly. This lack of clear commitment risks placing future U.S. foreign policy and actions under a cloud of suspicion over potential conflicts of interest.

"Especially in this time of great uncertainty and unease, Americans deserve a Secretary of State who passionately represents their interests above all others, and who will speak truth to power."