tv CNN Newsroom With Carol Costello CNN January 11, 2017 7:00am-8:01am PST
approach to foreign policy. i hope to explain what this approach means and how i would implement it if confirmed as secretary of state. americans welcome this rededication to american security, liberty, and prosperity. but new leadership is incomplete without accountability. if accountability does not start with ourselves, we cannot credibly extend it to our friends and our adversaries. we must hold ourselves accountable for upholding the promises we make to others. that america is trusted in good faith is essential to supporting our partners, achieving our goals, and assuring our security. we must hold our allies accountable to commitments they make. we cannot look the 0 other way at allies who do not meet their obligations. this is an injustice not only to us but to longstanding friends who honor their promises and bolster our own national security such as an israel. we must hold those who are not
our friends accountable to the agreements they make. our failure to do this over the recent decades has diminished our standing and encouraged back actors around the world to break their word. we cannot afford to ignore violations of international accords as we have done with iran. we cannot continue to accept empty promises like the ones china has made to press north korea to reform only to shy away from enforcement. looking the other way when trust is broken only encourages more bad behavior and it must end. we cannot be accountable, though, if we are not truthful and honest in our dealings. as you are aware, my longstanding involvement with the boy scouts of america, one of our bedrock ideals is honesty. indeed, the phrase "on my honor" begins the boy scout oath. and it mud undergird or foreign policy. in particular, we need to be honest about radical islam.
it is with good reason our fellow citizens have a growing concern about radical islam and its murderous acts. radical islam poses a grave risk to the stability of nations and the wellbeing of their citizens. powerful digital media platforms now allow isis, al qaeda, and other terror groups to spread a poisonous ideology that runs completely counter to the values of the american people and all people around the world who value human life. these groups are often emboldened by individuals sa sympathetic to their cause. these actors must face consequences for aiding and abetting what can only be called evil. the middle east and its surrounding regions pose many challenges which require our attention, including syria, iraq, and afghanistan.
there are competing priorities in this region which must be and will be addressed. but they must not distract from our utmost mission of defeating isis. because when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. defeating isis must be our foremost priority in the middle east. he thought isis will be the first step in disrupting the capabilities of other groups and individuals committed to striking our homeland and our allies. the demise of isis will allow us to increase our attention to other agents of radical islam like al qaeda, the muslim brotherhood, and certain elements within iran. but defeat will not occur on the battlefield alone. we must win the war of ideas. if confirmed, i want to ensure the state department does its part in supporting muslims around the world who reject radical islam in all its forms. we should also acknowledge the realities about china. china's island building in the south china sea is an illegal
taking of disputed areas without regard for international norms. china's economic and trade practices have not always followed its commitments to global agreements. it steals our intellectual property. it has not been a reliable partner in using its full influence to curb north korea. china has proven a willingness to act with abandon in the pursuit of its own goals which at times has put it in conflict with american interests. we have to deal with what we see, not what we hope. but we need to see the positive dimensions in our relationship with china as well. the economic wellbeing of our two nations is deeply intertwined. china has been a valuable ally in curtailing certain elements of radical islam. we should not let disagreements over other issues exclude areas for productive partnership.
we must also be clear-eyed about our relationship with russia. russia today poses a danger. but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests. it has invaded the ukraine, including the taking of crimea, and supported syrian forces that brutally violates the laws of war. our nato allies are right to be alarmed at a resurgent russia. but it was in the absence of american leadership that this door was left open and unintended signals were sent. we backtracked on commitments we made to allies. we sent weak or mixed signals with red lines that turned into green lights. we did not recognize that russians do not think like we do. words alone do not sweep away an uneven and at times contentious history between our two nations. but we need an open and frank dialogue with russia regarding its ambitions to we know how to
chart our own course. where cooperation with russia based on common interest is possible, such as reducing the global threat of terrorism, we ought to explore these options. were important differences remain, we should be steadfast in defending the interests of america and her allies. russia must know that we will be accountable to our commitments and those of our allies and that russia must be held to account for its actions. our approach to human rights begins by acknowledging that american leadership requires moral clarity. we do not face an either/or choice on defending global human rights. our values are our interests when it comes to human rights and humanitarian assistance. it is unreasonable to expect that every foreign policy endeavor will be driven by human rights considerations alone, especially when the security of the american people is at stake. but our leadership demands
actions specifically focused on improving the conditions of people the world over, utilizing both aid and where appropriate, economic sanctions as instruments of foreign policy. and we must near to standards of accountability. our recent engagements with the government of cuba was not accompanied by any significant concessions on human rights. we have not held them accountable for their conduct. their leaders received much while their people received little. that serves neither the interests of cubans or americans. abram had a lincoy abraham linc we should remain dedicated to human freedom. in closing, let us also be proud about the ideals that define us and the liberties we have
secured at great cost. the ingenuity, ideals, and culture of americans that came before us made the united states the greatest nation in history. so have their sacrifices. we should never forget that we stand on the shoulders of those who have sacrificed much and, in some cases, everything. they include our fallen heroes in uniform, our attorney service officers and other americans in the field who likewise gave all for their country. if confirmed in my work for the president and the american people, i will seek to engender trust with foreign leaders and governments and put in place agreements that will serve the purposes and interests of american foreign policy. the secretary of state works for the president and seeks to implement his foreign policy objectives. to do that, i must work closely with my cabinet colleagues and all relevant departments and agencies of the administration to build consensus. but let me also stress that keeping the president's trust
means keeping the public trust. and keeping the public trust means keeping faith with their elected representatives. i want all the members of this committee to know should i be confirmed, i will listen to your concerns and those of your staff and partner together to achieve great things for the country we all love. i'm an engineer by training. i seek to understand the facts, follow where they lead, and apply logic to all international affairs. we must see the world for what it is, have clear priorities, and understand that our power is considerable, but it is not infinite. we must where possible build pathways to new partnerships and strengthen old bonds which have frayed. if confirmed, i intend to conduct a foreign policy consistent with these ideals. we will never apologize for who we are or what we hold dear. we will see the world for what it is, be honest with ourselves and the american people, follow
facts where they lead us, and hold ourselves and others accountable. i thank you for your time and look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much for your testimony. do you commit to appear and testify upon request from this committee? >> yes, sir. >> with that, i'm going to -- i know the committee members and i rarely give opening statements, certainly not expansive ones like i gave. in order to move this along i'll reserve my time for interjections and move to the ranking member, senator cardin, and then we'll move to senator rubio. >> once again, mr. tillerson, thank you very much. do you agree with me that creating stable democratic free societies around the world that support the aspirations of their people including basic human rights is in our long term national security interests? >> without question, senator. >> and do you also agree that russia under mr. putin's leadership fails in that category? >> yes, sir.
>> so what we try to do in order to provide national, international leadership, thousands of people in russia have been harmed or killed as a result of mr. putin's leadership. and millions have been impacted by that. there is one person who lost his life in a courageous way, sergei mitnivsky, a young attorney who found corruption, did what any lawyer is supposed to do, reported it to the authorities. as a result, he was arrested, tortured and killed. and those who benefitted from the corruption were held with no accountability whatsoever. through u.s. leadership, we've brought that case to the international forum. the congress has passed a law, the mitnivsky law. other countries have passed similar laws to deny our banking
system and the right to visit our country to those who perpetrated gross violations of human rights not held accountable to russia. do you support that law? >> yes, sir, i do. >> i thank you for that. under the obama administration there have been 39 individuals who have been individually sanctioned and five more were recently added on monday. that law provides for congress to be able to submit through appropriate channels additional names to be reviewed by the administration for inclusion for sanctions. do you commit that you will follow that provision on names that we submit to you for potential sanctions for human rights violations under the mitnivsky law? >> senator, i will assure that if confirmed, myself and the state department does comply with that law. >> this year, under the national
defense authorization act, that was extended globally and now applies to human rights violations throughout the world. do you also commit to support the global mitnivsky law using the tools of our visa restrictions to prevent human rights violators from coming to america? >> senator, again, consistent with all applicable laws that might impact immigration, we'll endeavor to comply with that, yes. >> the laws allow the secretary of state -- the visas are privileges to come to america. there is no due process issue when issuing a visa. this is a privilege, to be able to come to a country. so we have -- there's no -- i'm not aware of any restrictions on your ability to withdraw the right of someone to come to america. there may be -- other than through treaties that we have diplomats that come in, which is exempted from that provision. >> i understand, senator.
that was what i intended to do. i think i would ensure that a full examination was made of any and all applicable applause or other policies. but then we would follow those and implement. >> you mentioned in your statement about the invasion by russia of crimea. does russia have in your view a legal claim to crimea? >> no, sir. that was a taking of territory that was not theirs. >> do you agree that russia has not complied with the minsk agreement with regard to ukraine? >> the process for implementation the minsk agreement continues. full completion of all the minsk accords has not been achieved. >> i want to get your view on the sanctions that the united states applied. and maybe i'll drill down, if i might, by asking you this first question. you stated in your statement
that part of the reasons why russia or we were ineffective in preventing russia is we didn't exercise strong enough international leadership. what would you have done or recommended to have been done to prevent russia from doing what it did? >> well, senator, in terms of the taking the crimea, i think my understanding is that that caught a lot of people by surprise. it certainly caught me by surprise, just as a private citizen. so i think the real question was the response to the taking of crimea, that then led to subsequent actions by russia which i mentioned. the next action being coming across the border of eastern ukraine with both military assets and men. that was the next illegal action. i think the absence of a very firm and forceful response to the taking of crimea was judged by the leadership in russia as a weak response and therefore --
>> so what would you have done, after we were surprised by what they did in taking over cry mim what should the u.s. leadership have done in response to that, that we didn't do? >> i would have recommended that the ukraine, all of its military assets that it had available, put them on that eastern border, provide those assets with defensive weapons that are necessary just to defend themselves, announce that the u.s. is going to provide them intelligence and that either nato or u.s. will provide air surveillance over that border to monitor any movements. >> so your recommendation would have been to do a more robust supply of military? >> yes, sir. i think what russian leadership would have understood is a powerful response that indicated that yes, you took the crimea, but this stops right here. >> so i understand, our nato
partners, particularly in the baltics and poland, are very concerned about russian aggression. nato has deployed troops in this region in order to show russia that article 5 means something. i take it you support that type of action? >> yes, i do. that is the type of response that russia expects. if russia acts with force, taking the crimea was an act of force, they didn't just volunteer themselves. so they require a proportional act, proportional show of force to indicate to russia that there will be no more taking of territory. >> that's encouraged to me to hear you say that because it's not exactly consistent with what mr. trump has been saying in regards to article 5 commitments under nato by the united states. so i appreciate your commitment or your views on that issue. so let me get to the response that was done. we imposed u.s.-led sanctions
against russia as a result of its conduct in ukraine. we went to europe and were able to get europe to act. the united states in my view wanted to go even further but we didn't get europe to go beyond what they were willing to do. do you agree or disagree with that strategy for the united states to lead by showing sanctions as we did? >> senator, sanctions are a powerful tool, and they're an important tool in terms of deterring additional action, once actors have acted, we want to deter any further action on their part. so yes, american leadership is oftentimes, if not almost always required to demonstrate that first step. >> and as you understand, unless we move, and we have to move in a strong position, we're going to be the best. we're going to get the strongest reaction on sanctions from the united states. we saw that in iran. and i know that some of us had
mentioned to you the legislation was followed yesterday, i don't know if you had a chance to respond to it or not, i might do that for questions for the record, but we have legislation, i would urge you to take a look at, that seems consistent with what you're saying here, that would provide the administration, the administration, with the tools to show russia that you attack us by cyber or continue to do what you're doing in ukraine or what you're doing in georgia, that there's going to be an economic price you're going to pay. i take it you believe that's a powerful tool and one that you would consider applying? >> senator, i have not had the opportunity to review the legislation. i'm aware that it has been introduced. and yes, i think, in carrying out the state department diplomacy or its important role in trying to negotiate to a different course of action, to a different pathway, we need a
strong deterrent in our hand. it's the old tenet of teddy roosevelt, walk softly and carry a big stick. in diplomacy, it is useful to have a stick that is in your hand so that whether you use it or not, it becomes part of that conversation. >> i appreciate that. let me ask one final conversation. i was meeting with mr. pruitt yesterday and i asked him about his view of global leadership on climate issues. he said, you should ask that question of the secretary of state nominee. so i'm going to ask it to you. and that is, we were part of cup 21. do you agree that the united states should continue in international leadership on climate change issues with the international community? >> i think it's important that the united states maintain its seat at the table on the conversations around how to address threats of climate change, which do require a global response. no one country is going to solve this alone. >> thank you. >> thank you. senator rubio.
>> welcome, mr. tillerson. do you believe during the 2016 presidential campaign russian intelligence services directed a campaign of active measures involving the hacking of e-mails, the strategic leak of these e-mails, the use of internet trolls, and the dissemination of fake news with the goal of denigrating a president candidate and undermining our democratic process? >> senator, i have had no classified briefings, i have no clearance yet. however i did read the interagency report. that report is troubling and indicates all the actions you subscribed were undertaken. >> based on your knowledge of russian leaders and russian politics, do you believe these activities could have happened without the knowledge and the consent of vladimir putin? >> i'm not in a position to be able to make that determination. again, that's indicated in the report. but i know there's additional classified information that might inform my view. >> you've engaged in significant
business activities in russia. i'm sure you're aware that very few things of a major proportion happen in that country without vladimir putin's permission. so i ask based on your views of russian politics and your experience, is it possible for something like this involving the united states elections to have happened without vladimir putin knowing about it and authorizing it. >> i think that's a fair assumption. >> that he would have. >> yes. >> if congress passed a bill imposing mandatory visa bans and asset freeze sanctions on persons who engage in significant activities undermining the cyber security in the united states, would you advise the president to sign it? >> i would certainly want to examine all the corners, all four corners of that. >> those are the four corners. we would sanction people who are involved in cyber attacks in the united states and interfering in our elections. >> the threat of cyber attacks is a broad issue. those are coming from many, many corners of the world. certainly this most recent
manifestation, and i think the new threat posed in terms of how russia has used this as a tool, that introduces even another element of threat. but cyber attacks are occurring from many nations. >> so no matter where they come from, if they come from belgium, if they come from france. if somebody is conducting cyber attacks against the united states and we pass a law that authorizes the president to sanction them or actually imposes these sanctions as mandatory, would you advise the president to sign it? >> it is that second element that you described that leaves the executive branch no latitude or flexibility in dealing with a broad array of cyber threats. i think it is important that those be dealt with on a country by country basis, taking all other elements into consideration in the relationship. so giving the executive the tool is one thing. requiring the executive to use it without any other considerations i would have concerns about. >> mr. tillerson, i understand your testimony. you're saying it was mandatory,
you would not be able to advise the president to sign it because you want to have the president have the flexibility to decide which countries to sanction and which ones to not sanction? >> under which circumstances to sanction. >> in essence, because you want to be able to take other things into account like for example the desire to improve relations with that country and therefore the president maybe doesn't want to sanction them even though they're attacking us? >> there could be a whole array of important issues that require consideration, including trading issues, trade relation issues, mutual agreements around our national security. so i don't think it's -- i don't think it's appropriate and certainly for me at this time to indicate that i would just say that it's a blanket -- a blanket application. i think that is the role of the executive branch. it is the role of the secretary of state and the state department to assist and inform the president in judgments about how to use what is a clearly
powerful tool. >> again, i mean, what's troubling about your answer is the implication that somehow if there is some country that we're trying to improve relations with or have significant economic ties with, the president, you may advise the president not to impose sanctions on that country, on individuals in that country, out of concern that it could damage the rest of our relationship with them on a cyber attack, which is a direct attack on our national security and our electoral process. so let me ask you, would you advise the president-elect to repeal the obama administration's recent executive orders regarding cyber security and russian interference in the 2016 elections? >> i think the president-elect has indicated, and if confirmed i would support, that what's really required is a comprehensive assessment of our cyber threat and cyber security policies. in my view, based on what i've been able to read and have been briefed, we do not have a cyber security policy. we do not have a comprehensive strategy around how to deal with
what has been a rapidly emerging threat. as i said, we're seeing it manifest itself in ways we never envisioned. >> we have to have a cyber security plan. that is separate from the question of whether people who already have conducted attacks should be sanctioned and singled out. there is an executive order that sanctions those individuals. my question is do you believe that executive order should be repealed by the incoming president. >> if confirmed, senator, i would want to examine it, all aspects of it, not only with the president but other agencies that will have update input on their views. >> again, mr. tillerson, if all the order says is that certain individuals will be sanctioned, you still need to examine it to see if that is a good idea or not? is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> is vladimir putin a war
criminal? >> i would not use that term. >> well, let me describe the situation in aleppo. perhaps that will help you reach that conclusion. in aleppo, mr. putin has directed his military to conduct a devastating campaign. he's targeted schools, markets, not just assisted syrians to do it, his military has targeted schools, markets, other civilian infrastructure. it's resulted in the death of thousands of civilians. this is not the first time mr. putin is involved in campaigns of this kind. back when he was prime minister, before he was elected, i'm sure you're aware, during that period of time there was a series of bombings and they blamed it on the chechens and mr. putin personally said he would punish them. he ordered the air force. they used scud missiles, 137 people died instantly. they used air explosive bombs, the bombs that ignite and burn the air breathed in by people who are hiding in basements. they used cluster munitions.
he used battlefield weapons against civilians. when it was all said and done, an estimated 300,000 civilians were killed and the city destroyed. it was an incredible body of reporting, open source and other, that all those bombings were part of a black flag operation on the part of the fsb, and if you want to know the motivation, putin's approval ratings before the attacks against the chechens was at 31%. by mid-august of that year, it was at 78%, in just three months. based on all this information and what's publicly in the record about what's happened in aleppo and the russian military, you are still not prepared that vladimir putin and his military have violated the rules of war and have conducted war crimes in aleppo? >> those are very, very serious charges to make. and i would want to have much more information before reaching a conclusion. i understand there is a body of record in the public domain. i'm sure there's a body of record in the classified domain.
i think in order to deal with a serious question like this -- >> mr. tillerson, the videos and the pictures -- >> -- fully informed before advising the president. >> there is so much information out there about what's happening in aleppo, leaving the chechen issue aside, what happened is clearly documented. it should not be hard to say that vladimir putin's military has conducted war crimes in aleppo because it is never acceptable, you would agree, for a military to specifically target civilians, which is what's happened there through the russian military. i find it discouraging, your ability to cite that which is globally accepted. in my last minute and a half, i want to move quickly to an additional question. in fact i want to enter two things into the record, mr. chairman, without objection. >> without objection. >> the first is a partial list of dissidents and critics of vladimir putin who were suspiciously murdered or died under highly suspicious circumstances. second, a letter addressed to
this committee by vladimir murza who himself was mysteriously poisoned and who is an opponent of the putin regime. >> without objection. >> mr. tillerson, do you believe that vladimir putin and his cronies are responsible for ordering the murder of countless dissidents, journalists, and political opponents? >> i do not have sufficient information to make that claim. >> are you aware of that people who oppose vladimir putin all over the world end up poisoned or shot in the head? do you believe it was part of an effort to murder his political opponents? >> people who speak up for freedom in regimes that are repressive are often at threat. and these things happen to them. in terms of assigning specific responsibilities, i would have to have more information. as i indicated, i feel it's
important that in advising the president, if confirmed, that i deal with facts, that i deal with sufficient information, which means having access to all information. and i'm sure there's a large body of information that i've never seen that's in the classified realm. i look forward, if confirmed, to becoming fully informed. but i am not willing to make conclusions on what is only publicly available or has been -- >> none of this is classified, mr. tillerson. these people are dead. political opponents -- >> your question was people who were directly responsible for that. i'm not disputing these people are dead. >> senator menendez. >> thank you. mr. tillerson, congratulations on your nomination. thank you for coming by to meet with me. and i would like to take this opportunity to expand upon the conversation we had last week. since you've worked in one sector, for one company throughout your entire career, getting a sense of your world view is incredibly important, since you will be the chief
advocate and adviser to the president-elect on those issues. so i would like to go through a series of questions. i think many of them can be answered by a simple yes or no. others will probably take a greater, more extensive answer. and you've alluded to some of this in your opening statement. let me go through several of them. do you believe it is in the national interests of the united states to continue to support international laws and norms that were established after world war ii? >> yes, sir. >> do you believe that the international order includes respecting the territorial integrity of sovereign countries and the inviability of their borders? >> yes. >> did russia violate this international order when it forceful forcefully annexed crimea and ukraine? >> yes, it did. >> did it violate international laws and norms? >> i'm not sure which laws where you are referring to. >> the annexation of crimea,
eastern ukraine, georgia, just to mention a few. >> yes, sir. >> does russia and syria's targeted bombing campaign in aleppo on hospitals, for example, violate this international order? >> yes. that is not acceptable behavior. >> do you believe these actions constitute war crimes? >> again, senator, i am not -- i don't have sufficient information to make that type of a serious conclusion. coming to that conclusion is going to require me to have additional -- >> do you understand what the standard is for a war crime? >> i do. >> and knowing that standard and knowing what is all within the realm of public information, you cannot say whether those actions constitute a war crime or not? >> i would not want to rely solely upon what has been reported in the public realm. i would want confirmation from agencies who would be able to present me with indisputable facts. >> if i could. >> if you won't take my time. >> no, i'm not taking your time,
it will be added back. if you had sufficient evidence in looking at classified information that that had taken place, would that the no be a war crime? >> yes, sir. >> thank you. >> for all of these answers that you've given me, does the president-elect agree with you? >> the president-elect and i have not had the opportunity to discuss this specific issue or the specific area. >> in your statement, on page 3, you say, in his campaign, president-elect trump proposed a bold new initiative to advance foreign policy. i hope to plaexplain what this approach means and how to implement this policy if i am secretary of state. i assume you have had some discussion about what that world view will be in order to understand how to execute that for the person you work for. >> in a broad construct and in
terms of the principles that are going to guide them, yes, sir. >> individually thought that russia would be at the very top of that considering all the actions that have taken place. did that not happen? >> that has not occurred yet, senator. >> that's pretty amazing. you built a career at exxonmobil that you said afforded you the opportunity to engage regularly with world leaders including vladimir putin in russia. in 2013, he awarded you with the order of friendship award. in our conversations you told me you had direct and personal access to the russian president over the course of your tenure there. then in 2014, exxonmobil lobbied aggressively against sanctions on russia after their invasion of ukraine. exxon lobbied against stability and democracy for ukraine act which i introduced in the senate last year. you employed well-known washington-based lobbyists to support these efforts. you personally visited the white house and reported that you were engaged, quote, at the highest levels of government. in essence, exxon became the in-house lobbyist for russia against these sanctions.
sanctions are one of the most effective diplomatic tools in our arsenal, one we rely on to avoid putting american lives at risk by engaging in traditional kinetic warfare. now, today, in response to a previous question by senator cardin, you said sanctions are a powerful tool. but you have made statements and given speeches where you have said you do not believe sanctions are a useful tool. so if sanctions are not a useful tool, have you changed your view? what are the tools of peaceful diplomacy you will use to get countries to return or act within the international order? what will you say to vladimir putin when he says, but rex, you said sanctions are bad? >> senator, it's important to acknowledge that when sanctions are imposed they by their design are going to harm american business. that's the idea, is to disrupt america's business engagement in whatever country is being
targeted for sanctions. and months -- >> i don't think it's to disrupt american business. i think it's to disrupt the economies of those countries. american business may or may not be affected to some degree. >> american business, if america is going to have an influence on disrupting those economies, then the intent behind the sanctions is to disrupt that country's access to american business investment, money flows, technology. >> financial sectors. >> correct. and i'm only stating a fact. i'm not debating it. the fact is, sanctions, in order to be implemented, do impact american business interests. in protecting america's interest, and i think this is where the president-elect would see the argument as well, sanctions are a powerful tool, let's design them well, let's target them well, and then let's
enforce them fully. and to the extent we can, if we can have other countries join us or if we are designing sanctions in concert, let's ensure those sanctions apply equally everywhere. >> when you made your remarks, and i have a long list which i'll introduce for the record, you did not differentiate that way. you basically made the broad case that sanctions are not an effective tool. now, i heard your response now, but understanding opening statement, you said that, quote, america must continue to display a commitment to personal liberty, human dignity, principled action in our foreign policy, and that we are the only global superpower with the means and moral compass shaping the world for good. i totally agree with you in that respect. but mr. tillerson, our efforts in leading the international community, for example, on sanctions against adversaries like iran and north korea represent exactly that, leadership and a moral compass. it's not about disadvantaging
american businesses. it's about putting patriotism over profit. diplomacy is not the same as deal making. it's about getting other countries to do things they may not always want to do and there isn't necessarily something to trade for it for. this is how we were able to build an extensive and effective sanctions network against iran. through legislation from congress and diplomatic pressure from secretaries of state across different administrations, we were able to build a framework of primary and secondary actions that ultimately crippled iran's economy. now, you lobbied against a comprehensive iran sanctions accountability and divestment act, which i was the author of. exxonmobil, and you were the head of exxonmobil, wanted to eliminate secondary sanctions to prevent joint ventures. this makes sense as in 2003, 2004, and 2005, you were engaged through a subsidy country in
businesses with countries that the united states listed as state sponsors of terrorism including iran, syria, and the sudan, countries that except for the maneuver of your subsidy, exxonmobil could not have been dealing with. exxonmobil is listed as a coalition member of usa engage, an advocacy group that lobbies against sanctions. this group also lobbied against sanctions against iran and against the joint comprehensive plan of action. so my question is, with that as a history, with the work that you did in the spring of 2011 where you oversaw an exxonmobil deal with the custokurdish regi government in iraq after the united states government expressly did not want to see that happen fearing that a deal would undermine the u.s. policy of one iraq and lead the country closer to civil war, what message are you now going to be able to send to american
businesses who are intent on pursuing their own interests at the expense of u.s. policies and potential political stability in foreign countries? how are you going to recalibrate your priorities as secretary of state? your shareholders are the american people, and their security and their interests. >> there was a lot in that question, senator. >> i'll give you the rest of my time. >> first, i have never lobbied against sanctions personally. i continue -- t >> the company you directed did. >> to my knowledge, exxon never directly lobbied against sanctions. not to my knowledge. in terms of all the other actions that were mentioned there, they've been done -- they were all undertaken with a great deal of transparency and openness and engagement and input to the process. that's the beauty of the american process, is that others are invited to express their view and inform the process.
but that -- my pivot now, if confirmed to be secretary of state, will have one mission only, and that is to represent the interests of the american people. and as i've stated multiple times, sanctions are an important and powerful tool. but designing poor sanctions and having poor and ineffective sanctions can have a worse effect than having no sanctions at all if they convey a weak response. so it's important in designing sanctions, as i've said, that they're carefully crafted and targeted with an intended effect and then enforced. to the extent american leadership can broaden participation in those sanctions, and you're exactly right, the iran sanctions were extraordinarily effective because others joined in. >> thank you. >> senator menendez has played an incredible role for our nation, making sure that sanctions are in place and has led us all, if you will,
relative to iran. let the record say that your time ran over to accommodate the interjection i made earlier. it's my understanding, i think you called me during this time, that your concern with the sanctions that were in place relative to iran were not that they were put in place but that the europeans had put them in a way that was different, it caused adverse -- an adverse situation for u.s. business relative to european businesses. is that correct? >> that was with respect to the sanctions for russia, that's correct. >> with that, let me just -- on senator rubio's questions, i understand how a nominee would wish to be careful how they answer, especially one that plans to do what they say. in the event with many of those where he was asking about war crimes, if you are able through
your own independent knowledge in working with classified agencies here within the government to determine that the types of activities that he so well articulated took place, you would agree that those in fact would be war crimes? >> yes, sir. >> senator johnson. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome, mr. tillerson. i imagine you're having a pretty good time already. i want to pick up a little bit on sanctions, because i've had my own genuine concerns about the effectiveness of sanctions and the double edged sword nature of them. for example, again, you are pretty well aware of events and the public opinion inside russia. i'm concerned that some not well-designed sanctions can actually solidify, for example, vladimir putin's standing within russia. is that a legitimate concern on
sanctions? >> yes, sir, it is. >> in your testimony, a couple of statements, you said russia is not unpredictable, another way of saying that is that russia is pretty predictable. russia does not think like we do. can you further expand on both those comments? >> in terms of their -- [ audience interruption ] >> doesn't want to drill and burn the arctic. that will ruin the climate and destroy the future for our children and grandchildren. please don't put exxon in charge of the state department. protect our children and grandchildren. please don't put exxon in charge of the state department! >> if you would, i can easily add time myself, but if we could stop the clock when these kind of interferences take place, i would appreciate it. with that, senator johnson. >> if you forgot the question, it was explain your comments
that russia is predictable, basically, and that russia doesn't think like we do. expand on that. >> in my experience of both dealing with russia and representatives of russian government and russian entities, and then as my -- the length of time i've spent in russia as an observer, my experience with the russians are that they're very calculating, they're very strategic in their thinking, and they develop a plan. [ audience interruption ] >> -- as expendable. in our home state of texas, people are resisting pipelines. whether or not you become secretary of state, people will not stop. senators, be brave. stop this man. protect the vulnerable. senators, be brave. protect the vulnerable!
>> i apologize for that, mr. tillerson, maybe you can answer the question unimpeded. >> i found the russians to be very strategic in their thinking, very tactical. they generally have a very clear plan that they've laid before them. so in terms of -- when i make the statement they're not unpredictable, if one is able to step back and understand what their long term motivation is, and you se that they're going to chart a course, then it's an understanding of how are they likely to carry that plan out, and where are all of the elements of that plan that are on the table. and in my view, the leadership of russia has a plan. it is a geographic plan that is in front of them. and they are taking actions to implement that plan. they're judging responses. and then they're making the next step in the plan based upon the response. in that regard, they are not
unpredictable. if russia does not receive an adequate response to an action, they will execute the next step of the plan. >> so be a little more specific, summarize that plan that you see that they have. >> russia, more than anything, wants to reestablish its role in the global world order. they have a view that following the breakup of the soviet union, they were mistreated in some respects in the transition period. they believe they deserve a rightful role in the global world order because they are a nuclear power, and they're searching as to how to establish that. and for most of the past 20 plus years since the demise of the soviet union, they were not in a psition to assert that. they have spent all of these years developing the capability to do that. and i think that's now what we are witnessing, is an assertion on their part in order to force
a conversation about what is russia's role in the global world order. and so the steps being taken are simply to make that point, that russia is here, russia matters, and we're a force to be dealt with. and that is a fairly predictable course of action they're taking. i think the important conversation that we have to have with them is, does russia want to now and forever be an adversary of the united states. do you want this to get worse or does russia desire a different relationship. we're not likely to ever be friends. as others have noted, our value systems are starkly different. we do not hold the same values. but i also know the russian people, because of having spent so many years in russia. there is scope to define a different relationship that can bring down the temperature around the conflicts we had
today. and i think as secretary gates alluded to and as secretary nunn alluded to in their opening remarks, dialogue is critical so these things do not spin out of control. we need to move russia from being an adversary always to a partner at times. and on other issues we're going to be adversaries. it's not unlike my comments i made on china. at times china is friendly and at times china is an adversary. with russia, engagement is necessary in order to define what is that relationship going to be. and then we will know how to chart our own plan of action to respond to that. >> in my mind, if i take a look at the spectrum of america's relationship to different nations, you have friends and allies, you have friendly rivals, you have unfriendly adversaries, you have enemies. right now you're basically putting russia in the unfriendly adversary category?
>> unfriendly to enemies. i think at this point, they're clearly in the unfriendly adversary category. i hope they do not move to enemy because that would imply even more direct conflict with one another. >> but you don't hold out much hope that we can move them into the friend rly rivalry category? >> senator, i tend to think there are three categories. there are friends, partners, and adversaries. at times certainly our friends are partners from time to time on specific actions. our adversaries from time to time can be partners. but on other issues, we're just not going to agree, so we remain adversaries. an adversary at the ideological level is one thing. an adversary at the conflict level, direct conflict level, that's a very different. >> i want to switch subjects a little bit. i agree with former senator nunn
when he said your business experience, your private sector background, your relationship with putin is actually an asset coming into this position. i come from the private sector. i think that kind of perspective is sorely needed. i don't think we have enough people from the private sector. i think economic strength is inextricably linked to national strength. your background traveling the world, i know i asked you, i don't know if you ever did the calculation, how many different countries have you traveled to? >> i've never actually counted them up. i would say over 40, somewhere between 40 and 50. i've never actually counted them. >> how many countries have you actually done deals with where you dealt with top leadership? >> i've never counted those, but it's certainly probably between ten and 20 where i was directly engaged in a significant way. >> let me ask you, as somebody from the private sector being
asked to serve your nation, understanding you'll be going through a process like this, understanding all the disclosure, leaving the light behind that i'm sure you valued, what was your greatest reservation in saying yes? >> senator, when i went through all of the analysis, all the reasons i had for saying no, which is your question, were all selfish reasons. so i had no reason to say no. >> you obviously had responsibilities as the ceo of exxonmobil, fiduciary responsibility. your role is going to change. do you have any reservation and can you just kind of describe exactly what your mindset is from making that transition? >> senator, i have no reservations about my clean break with my private sector life. it was a wonderful 41 1/2 year career. i'm extraordinarily proud of it. i learned an awful lot.
but now, i'm moving to a completely different responsibility. my love of country and my patriotism is going to dictate that i serve no one's interest but that of the american people in advancing national security. >> as you travel the world with the business mindset, working at developing projects around the world, obviously you're hearing from people around the world. former president carter in june of 2015 was commenting on president obama's foreign policy. and here are some excerpts of his quotes. he said he can't think of many nations in the world that we don't have a better relationship than when he took over from president obama. our prestige in the world is probably lower now than six or seven years ago. is that your general sense as you travel around the world in the last years of this administration, that our prestige and respect is lower,
that we have not developed better relationships around the world? >> senator, i don't remember if i shared it with you in the meeting we had, i know i shared it with others in meetings, in many respects i've spent the last ten years on an unintended listening tour, as i traveled around the world conducting affairs, engaging with the top leadership, heads of state in many of these countries. and i have had the opportunity to listen to them express their frustrations, their fears, their concerns, as to the withdrawal and the stepping back of america's leadership, the lack of that engagement. and they are yearning and they want american leadership reasserted. when i met with the president-elect and we were meeting about his ultimately asking me to do this, i indicated to him, i said, mr. president, we've got a tough hand of cards that you've been dealt, but, i said, there's no use in whining about it, there's no use at pointing fingers at anyone, we're going to play that hand out, because what i know is
america still holds all the aces. we just need to draw them out of the deck. and leaders around the world want our engagement. i said, you're going to be pushing on an open door. these people want america to come back. >> one of the reasons i value the private sector experience is in your opening statement, the number of times you used "reality," "clarity," "moral leadership," "facts," "logic," "clear priorities." those are the words of a businessperson. that's why your perspective will be very welcome in the state department. thank you, mr. tillerson. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, sir. senator shaheen. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you, mr. tillerson, for being willing to consider the nomination which has been put forward to be secretary of state. i agree with your opening statement that the united states has an important role to play in the world, not just standing up for our interests and values but
also for democracy, for press freedom, for human rights, for rule of law. you were unwilling to agree with senator rubio's characterization of vladimir putin as a war criminal. and you point out in your statement that russia has disregarded american interests. i would suggest, as i think has been brought out in later testimony, that not only has disregarded american interests but international norms and humanitarian interests. the state department has described russia as having an authoritarian political system dominated by president vladimir putin. i mean while freedom house puts russia in the category of countries like iran with very restricted political rights ruled by one part or military dictatorships, religious hierarchies or autocrats. do you agree with that characterization of russia and vladimir putin? >> i would have no reason to take exception.
>> senator rubio and senator cardin both talked about some of those people who have been victims of the putin authoritarian regime in russia. and behind me is a poster with a recent "new york times" story, i quote, more kremlin opponents are ending up dead. i would like to ask unanimous consent, mr. chairman, to enter the article into the record. >> without exception -- objection. >> i think a picture is always worth a thousand words. when you put a face to sergei metsvinski as this poster does, i think it speaks to what's happening there. and how we should think about the country and dealing with president putin. so i understand what senator
nunn said, i mean former senator nunn and secretary gates said when they talked about the need to have dialogue with russia and to continue a mill to mill relationship. but i also think it's important for us to understand who we're dealing with. in 2008, you notably said that there is no respect for the rule of law in russia today. do you think that continues to be true? >> that is still the case, yes. >> so i think you can probably understand, mr. tillerson, why some of us are very concerned about the president-elect's statements praising vladimir putin's leadership, his intelligence, including after being reminded of his ruthless persecution of political enemies and after -- >> we're going to break away from the senate foreign relations committee confirmation hearings for rex tillerson to become the next secretary of state. the president-elect of the united states, donald trump, is getting ready to hold a news
conference momentarily, the first news conference in some six months, certainly the first news conference since he was elected president of the united states. the news conference takes on added significance, given all the developments that have happened over the past few days, jake. >> that's right. we were originally told, i think it's been more than 168 days since he had that last press conference, in which, you might remember, he invited russia to hack hillary clinton's e-mails. moving along from that, he has said that he will introduce the standards by which he will wall himself off from his global business empire, and then of course in the last day cnn and other media organizations, "the washington post," "the new york times" and others, have reported that on friday with a briefing with the top intelligence officials of the country there was a two-page attention to the intelligence report claiming that russians claimed to have damaging information about the president-elect and that there were communications between emissaries of the