Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. John McCain questions Secretary of Defense Ash Carter during a committee hearing September 22, 2016, in Washington, DC.
McCain still undecided on Tillerson vote
00:47 - Source: CNN

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McCain said Tuesday he is still learning more about Tillerson

In 2013, Putin awarded the former ExxonMobil CEO the Order of Friendship

Washington CNN  — 

Sen. John McCain said Tuesday that he has not decided whether he will back Rex Tillerson for secretary of state given existing concerns about his relationship with Russia.

“When I see what Vladimir Putin has done in the way of literally committing war crimes intentionally – I’m pointing out again precision weapons used in Aleppo to strike hospitals and kill innocent men, women and children, that’s just an example – then I question the recipient of a friendship award with Vladimir Putin,” the Arizona Republican told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day.”

Behind the deep ties between Exxon’s Rex Tillerson and Russia

McCain said he is still learning more about Tillerson.

“I had another conversation with him yesterday where I think he explained better to me his relations with Vladimir Putin.”

In 2013, Putin awarded the former ExxonMobil CEO the Order of Friendship, one of the highest honors Russia gives to foreign citizens.

The honor has raised concerns that Tillerson is too close to Russia, a country many lawmakers consider one of America’s biggest enemies.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said last week he was discouraged that Tillerson said he needed more information about Putin before blaming him for questionable acts, including alleged murders of political opponents and critical journalists.

Tillerson avoids calling Putin war criminal

“Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?” Rubio asked at Tillerson’s hearing.

“I would not use that term,” Tillerson replied.

While McCain was often critical of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy – including on Russia, he said Tuesday that Americans can be proud that they elected the current president.

“He was a statement to the world that Americans will elect a person as president no matter what their color or creed is,” he told Cuomo. “And it was a signal and something that all of us can be very proud of.”