02:57 - Source: CNN
Dems vow confirmation fight for 8 Trump cabinet picks

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Tillerson is Trump's secretary of state nominee

Corker chairs the committee of oversight

CNN —  

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson’s views on international relations – including Russia – are very much in the “mainstream of foreign policy thinking here in the US.”

Corker, who will oversee Tillerson’s confirmation hearings, met with the ExxonMobil chief executive for more than an hour in a private session Tuesday in the Tennessee Republican’s Capitol Hill office.

Asked if he expects Tillerson, who has a relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has cut business deals in that country, will lead a robust policy towards Russia, Corker said yes. That’s been a key concern of several GOP senators, including John McCain of Arizona.

“I had a long private conversion with him. I had talked to him on the phone prior to that,” said Corker, who was also reportedly under consideration by Trump for the secretary of state position. “I think what people are going to find when they hear Tillerson in the hearing is that he’s very, very much in the mainstream of US foreign policy thinking.”

Corker declined to answer whether Tillerson supports new sanctions against Russia for its alleged involvement in hacking of the US political system during the last election. Tillerson would address the issue at his confirmation hearings, he said, which are tentatively scheduled for next week.

“I’m going to let him speak for himself,” Corker said. “I think when you see him he’s not an outlier when it comes to US foreign policy in any way that I can tell.”

Tillerson’s financial disclosure “is one of the cleaner disclosers” he seen, Corker said, because Tillerson’s whole net worth is in Exxon where he has worked for over 40 years and the company is buying him out with cash.

Corker said they plan to finalize the hearing schedule soon but is coordinating with other committees to ensure there are not too many confirmation hearings for Cabinet officials happening at the same time.