January 12, 2017

Rubio aware of worldwide news, Tillerson not so much

“Let me ask you this question—is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?” Rubio bluntly asked. To which, Tillerson replied, “I would not use that term,” visibly irritating the Florida senator. “Well, let me describe the situation in Aleppo to help you reach a conclusion,” he said, before describing a number of atrocities in the Syrian city that have been credited to decisions made by Putin and the Russian government. When Tillerson attempted to dance around the question by asserting that he would like to have “much more information before reaching a conclusion,” Rubio kept pressing.

“It should not be hard to say that Vladimir Putin’s military has conducted war crimes in Aleppo because it is never acceptable for a military—you would agree—to specifically target civilians, which is what has happened there,” the senator argued, going on to cast Tillerson's reluctance to label Putin a war criminal as “discouraging.” (Minutes later, Tillerson did admit that, if he had sufficient confirmation of Putin’s action as presented in the public domain, he would classify them as war crimes.)

When Rubio similarly tried to get Tillerson to comment on the killings of journalists critical of Putin’s regime, the ExxonMobil chief once again demurred that “he did not have sufficient information to make that claim” before conceding that “people who speak up for freedoms in regimes that are oppressive are often a threat and these things happen to them,” but stopped short of assigning blame to the Russian leader.
“None of this is classified,” Rubio said angrily, at one point, as Trump’s secretary-of-state nominee suggested, again, that he didn’t have enough information to give a full answer. “These people are dead!”

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