Sen. Coons calls meeting with Tillerson productive, but questions remain
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware) met briefly President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, Wednesday.
The state’s junior senator says he talked to the former ExxonMobil Chief Executive for an hour and a half.
Their conversation covered a variety of issues, including Russia and Tillerson's relationship with Russian president Vladmir Putin.
Coons says he also asked Tillerson bluntly if he’ll support America’s commitment to NATO.
“And he was clear that he sees NATO as being central to our stability and security and that our Western allies are vital and that he wants to work to strengthen NATO,” said Coons.
He adds he also tried to impress upon Tillerson the difference between being a CEO and Secretary of State.
“My core concern is about whether he understands being the CEO of a company that’s delivering shareholder value by producing petroleum and being Secretary of State where you’re charged with fighting for America’s values," said Coons. "Things like press freedom, human rights and democracy that are not always high on the list for the CEO of an oil company.”
Coons called the conversation productive, but says he has more questions he hopes to have answered in Tillerson's confirmation hearing.
Coons sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which will need to approve Tillerson’s nomination at that confirmation hearing before it goes to a full Senate vote.
Tillerson's confirmation hearing is currently scheduled for next week when the Senate will also be voting on a budget resolution.
Coons would like to see the hearing postponed until after the budget vote so the committee can give the nomination its full attention.