A tough statement from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on Tuesday suggests that Rex Tillerson could face a rocky confirmation hearing for secretary of state.
Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which will preside over Tillerson’s hearing, took a number of implicit shots against the CEO’s record at ExxonMobil. President-elect Donald Trump officially announced Tillerson’s nomination for the nation’s top diplomatic post early Tuesday morning.
“While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination,” Rubio said. “The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, is free of potential conflicts of interest, has a clear sense of America’s interests and will be a forceful advocate for America’s foreign policy goals to the president, within the administration and on the world stage.”
He added that he would “do my part to ensure he receives a fair but also thorough” confirmation hearing.
— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) December 13, 2016
Rubio had previously expressed reservations about Tillersons’s ties to Russia. In 2013, the business mogul won Russia’s Order of Friendship award after signing deals with a Kremlin-owned oil company, according to the Washington Post.
“Being a ‘friend of Vladimir’ is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #SecretaryOfState,” Rubio tweeted Sunday.
Rubio’s statement is also a sign that he may be among the Republican senators willing to confront Trump on areas in which they disagree.
By taking on his own party’s figurehead, the senator could be setting himself up for another presidential campaign. During his 2016 White House bid, Rubio was criticized by some Republicans for caving too quickly to political expedience.