tv Secretary of State Nominee Rex Tillerson Testifies at Confirmation Hearing CSPAN January 11, 2017 1:40pm-2:19pm EST
considered. as republicans will be seeking to move things forward and democrats continue to try to block that measure. you can see live coverage of the u.s. senate as always on our companion network c-span2. this senate foreign relations committee hearing on rex tillerson, secretary of state nomination, in a lunch break now, expected back in about 45 minutes or so. while we wait, we'll show you a portion from earlier today, including questioning by florida republican marco rubio about russia and vladimir putin. >> good morning. chairman corker and others. i'm honored to have the backing of senator cornyn, senator cruz from my home state of texas. i want to thank senator nunn for his commitment to nuclear nonproliferation, something he remains a steadfast today as ever. and secretary gates for his service to eight u.s. presidents, and his own leadership as president of the boy scouts of america. chairman corker, ranking member
cardin, members of the committee, it is an honor to appear before you today as president-elect trump's nominee for secretary of state. and seek the approval of this committee and the full senate for my confirmation. i come before you at a pivotal time in both the history of our nation and our world. nearly everywhere we look, people in nations are deeply unsettled. old ideas and international norms which were well understood and governed behaviors in past may no longer be effective in our time. we face considerable threats in this evolving new environment. china has emerged as an economic power in global trade. and our interactions have been both friendly and adversarial. while russia seeks respect and relevance on the global stage, its recent activities have disregarded america's interests. radical islam is not a new ideology.
but it is hateful, deadly, and an illegitimate expression of the islamic faith. adversaries like iran and north korea pose great threats to the world because of their refusal to conform to international norms. as we confront these realities, how should america respond? my answer is simple. to achieve the stability that is foundational to peace and security in the 21st century, american leadership must not only be renewed, it must be asserted. we have many advantages on which to build. our alliances are durable. and our allies are looking for a return of our leadership. our men and women in uniform are the world's finest fighting force. and we possess -- >> senators, be brave. protect my community. protect america. rex tillerson, i reject you.
i reject you. my home was destroyed by hurricane sandy. >> our men and women in uniform are the world's finest fighting force. and we possess the world's larmgest economy. america is still the destination of choice for people of the world over because of our track record of benevolence and hope for our fellow man. america has been indispensable in providing the stability to prevent another world war, increase global prosperity and encourage the expansion of liberty. our role in the world has also entailed a place of moral leadership. and in the scope of international affairs, america's level of goodwill toward the world is unique. and we must continue to display a commitment to personal liberty, human dignity, and principled action in our foreign policy. quite simply, we are the only global super power with the means and the moral compass capable of shaping the world for
good. if we do not lead, we risk plunging in the world deeper into confusion and danger. but we have stumbled. in recent decades we have cast american leadership into doubt and some instances we have withdrawn from the world, and others we have intervened with good intentions, but did not achieve the stability and global security we sought. instead, our actions and our nonactions have triggered a host of unintended consequences and created a void of uncertainty. today, our friends still want to help us, but they don't know how. meanwhile, our adversaries have been embold tonight take advantage of this absence of american leadership. in this campaign, president-elect trump proposed a bold new commitment to advancing american interests in our 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. new leadership is incomplete without accountability. if accountability does not start with ourselves, we cannot credibly extend it our friends and our adversaries. we must hold ourselves accountable to upholding the promises we make to others. and america that can be 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 can do not look the other way at allies who do not immediate their obligations. this is an injustice, not only to us, but to long-standing friends who honor their promises and bolster our own national security, such as israel. and 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 an 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 made to pressure 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 if we're not truthful and honest in our dealings. as you are aware, my long-standing involvement with the boy scouts of america, one of our bedrock ideals is honesty. and indeed the phrase, on my honor, begins the boy scout oath. and it must undergird our foreign policy. in particular, we need to be honest about radical islam. it is with good reason that our fellow citizens have a growing concern about radical islam and the murderous acts committed in its name against americans, and our friends.
radical islam poses a grave risk to the stability of nations in the well-being of their citizens. powerful digital media platforms now allow isis, al qaeda, and other terror groups to spread a poison out 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 enabled and emboldened by organizations and individuals sympathetic to their cause. these actors must face consequences for aiding and abetting what can only be called evil. the most urgent step in thwarting was cal islam is defeating isis. the middle east poses 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. eliminating 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 on 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 will ensure the state department does its part in supporting muslims around the world who reject radical islam and 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, and is aggressive and expansionist in the digital realm. 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 well-being 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 is invaded the ukraine, including the taking of crimea, and supported syrian forces that brutally violates the laws of war. our nato brutally violates rules of war. it was in the absence of american leadership that this door was left open and unintended signals were sent. we back track on commitments we made to allies. we sent weaker mixed signals to relied that turned into green lights. we did not recognize that russia does not think like we do. words alone do not sweep away an uneven of times of contention between the two nations. we need a frank dialogue with russia regarding be a missions. we are in cooperation with russia involving common tres such as reducing the global threat of terrorism we ought to
explore these options. where important differences remain, we should be steadfast in the interest 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 access. our approach to human right provides that leadership provides moral clarity. our values are our interest 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. especial especially when the security of the american people is at stake. but ourership demand access specifically focused on improving conditions the world over utilizing both aid and where appropriate economic
sanctions is instruments of foreign policy. and we must adhere to standard of accountability and 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 sefbs neither the interest of cubans or americans. abraham lincoln declared that america is the last best hope of earth. our moral light must not go out if we are to remain an agent of freedom for mankind. supporting human rights in our foreign policy is a key component of clairifying to watching world of what america stands for. in closing, let us also be proud about the ideals that define us and liberties we have secured at great cost. the ingenuity and culture americans who 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 heros in uniform, our foreign service offices and other americans in the field who like wise gave all for their country. if confirmed, my wok fot president and american people, i will seek to have trust and put in place services that are in the interest of american foreign policy. 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 it build consensus. but that may 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 that 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 not infinite. we must, where possible, build pathways to partnership answers strengthen old bonds which have frayed. if confirmed i plan it conduct a foreign policy consistent with these ideals. we will never apologize for who we are and what we hold dear. we will see the world for what it is, be honest with our self answers 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 requests 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 will reserve my time and move to senator carden then to senator rubio. >> once again, thank you very much. do you agree with me that free societies around the world and waysic human rights is in our long-term national security interest? >> without question, senator. >> and do you agree that mr. mr. putin's leadership fails in that category? >> yes, sir. so what we try do in order to provide international leadership is to put a face on an issue.
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's one person who lost his life in a courageous way, sergey mitnitski. he found corruption, did what any lawyer is supposed to do, reported it to the authorities. as a result, he was arest, tortured and killed. and those who benefitted from the corruption were held with no accountability whatsoever. through that leadership, we brought case to the international forum. congress passed a law, other countries have now passed similar laws to deny our banking system and the right to visit our country to those who perpetrated those gross violations of human rights that were not held accountable by russia. do you support that law?
>> yes, sir, i do. >> thank you for that. under the obama administration, there have been 39 individuals who have been individually sanctioned under the law and five more were just 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 law? >> senator, i will insure that if confirmed, myself and the state department does comply with that law. >> and this year under the national offense authorization act, that was extended globally and now applies to human rights violations in throughout the
world. do you also commit to support the global law using the tools of our visa restrictions to prevent human right 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 law allowed secretary of state, visas are privileges that come to america. there is no -- there's 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 accepted from that provision. >> i understand, senator. that was what i intended to do. i think i would insure that a full examination was made of any and all applicable laws or other
polici policies within and 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 been complied with the agreement in regards to the resolution of ukraine? >> the process for implementing the minsk agreement, as i understand it, it continues. and no full completion of all of the courts has not yet been achieved. >> so 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 of
preventing russia is that we did not exercise enough leadership. what would you have recommended to have been done to prevent russia from doing what it did? >> senator, in terms of the taking of 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 crimea, 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 this military assets that it had available, put them on that eastern border, provide those assets with defepsive wadefep defensive weapons, just needed to defend themselves, the u.s. would provide them intelligence 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 a, yes, you took to crimea. but this stops right here. >> so as to understand, our nato partners, particularly in the baltics and poland, are very concerned about russian
aggression. nato deployed troops in this region in order to show russia that article 5 means something. i take to you support that type of action? >> yes, i do. that is the type of response that russia expects. if russia acts with force, taking of crimea was an act of force. they didn't just volunteer themselves. so they require a proportional show of force to indicate to russia that there will be no more taking of territories. >> that's encouraging to me to hear you say that. that's not exactly consistent with what trump has been saying with article 5 commitment under nato by the united states. 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.
united states, in my view, wanted to go further but we couldn't get europe to go beyond what they were willing to do. do you agree or disagree with that stlrategy for the united states it lead by showing sanction he as we did? >> senator, sanctions are a powerful tool and an important tool in terms of deterring additional action. once actors have acted up, we want to deter any further action on their part, so yes american leadership is not often times almost always required to demonstrate that first step. >> unless we move and we have to move in a strong position, we're going to be the best and get the sachkss from the united states. and some of us have mentioned legislation followed yesterday and i don't know if you have 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 are saying here that would provide the administration, administration with the tools to show russia that he attacked us by cyber or you continue to do what you're doing in ukraine or what you're doing in georgia, that there's an economic price you're going to pay. i take to 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 that and in carrying out the state department, carrying out its diplomacy or its important role in trying to negotiate to a different course of action, to a differe different pathway, we need a stroo strong deterrent in our hand. teddy roosevelt, carrying a big
stick, in diplomacy, it is important to have a stick in your hand so that whether you use it or not becomes part of that conversation. >> i understand. let me ask one final question. ways 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 to the secretary of state nominee. so i will ask it to you. we were part of cop 21. do you believe that the united states should be part of the climate change issues with the international community? >> i think it is important the u.s. maintain a seat around the table. having to address threats of climate change which do require a global response. no one country will 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, strategic leak of e-mails, use of internet troels and dissemination of fake news with the goal of dem grating candidate and involved in the process. >> i haven't received my clearance yet. however i did read the inner agency report released on january 6th. that report clearly is troubling. and indicates that all of the actions you described were undertaken. >> based on your knowledge, of russian leaders and russian politics, do you believe these activity could have happened without the knowledge an consent of vladimir putin? >> i'm not in a position to make that determination. again, that's indicated in the report. but i know there's additional classified information that -- >> mr. tillerson, you have engaged in significant activity in russia. i'm sure you areware that very few things major proportion happen in that country without vladimir putin's permission.
i ask in your views of russian politics and experiences if possible in something like this for united states elections to have happened without vladimir putin knowing about it and authorizing it. >> i think that sfis a fair assumption. >> with asset-free sanction owns persons who engage if significant activity undermining cyber security of private or public infrastructure and democratic institutions in the united states, would you advise the president to sign it. >> i would certainly want it examine all of the corners, all four corners of that. >> those are the four corners. sanction people involved in cyberattacks against the united states and interfering in our elections. ? the threat of cyberattack says 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. cyberattacks are occurring from many nations -- >> so mat no matter where they come from. whether belgium or france. if we pass a law that authorizes the president to sanction or imposes sanctiones as mandatory, would you advise the president to sign it? >> i think it is that second element, senator, that you just described that leaves the executive branch no latitude or flexibility in dealing with the broad array of cyber threats. i think it is important 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 he about. >> so mr. tillerson, i understand your testimony, you say if it was mandatory you would not advise the president to sign it because you want the froze 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, for example, 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 it sanction them even though they are attacking us? >> there could be a whole array of important issues that require consideration. including trade 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 is a blanket application. i think that is the role of the executive branch. it is the role of the secretary of state and state department to assist and inform the president in judgments about how to use what is clearly powerful tool. >> well, again, what is troubling about your answer is the implication that somehow if there is some country we are
trying to improve relations with or have significant economic ties with, you may advise the president not to impose sanctions on that country and individuals in that country out of concern it could damage our -- the rest of our relationship with them on a cyber attack, which is a direct attack on our national security and electoral process. let me ask you, would you advise the president-elect to repeal the obama administration's recent executive orders regarding cyber and election interference. >> if confirmed, i would support that what is really required is a comprehensive assessment of our cyber threat and cybersecurity policies. in my view, based on what i have been able to read and have been briefed, we do not have a cybersecurity policy. we do not have a comprehensive strategy to deal with what has been an emerging threat. as i said we are seeing it manifest itself in ways that we never envisioned.
>> mr. tillerson, i understand the cybersecurity plan. we have to have one to protect ourselves and handle cyberattacks from our country. that is separate because of people who have already conducted attacksed with sanctioned and there are attacked, and sanked those individuals, and do you believe that executive order should be repealed by the incoming president. >> if confirmed senator, i would want it examine it and all aspects of it. in consultation and not just with the president but other agency answers their views. >> with all of the executive order says is that certain individuals responsible for cyber actions against the united states will be sanctioned and you still need to examine whether that's a good idea or not. is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> okay. let me ask you this question. is vladimir putin a war criminal? >> i would not use that term. >> well, let me describe a situation in aleppo and perhaps that will help you reach that conclusion. in aleppo, mr. putin has
directed his military to conduct a devastating campaign and targeted schools, markets. not just assisted civilians. his military targeted schools and markets resulting in the deaths of thousands of civilians. this is not the first time mr. putin is involved in campaigns of this kind. back when he was appointed prime minister before he was elected, i'm sure you're aware of that period of time, there was a series of bombings. they blamed it on the chechens. mr. putin said personally would he punish them. he ordered the air force to bomb, hitting hospitals, main outdoor market packed with shoppers. 137 people died immediately. these used bombs that ignite and are in the air for people that breath it. when it was all said and done an estimated 300,000 civilians killed and the city completely
destroyed. by the way, there is credible body of reporting open source and other that this was all those bombings were part of a black flag operation on part of the fsb. if you want to know motivation, here is what it is. putin's approval ratings before attack at 31%. by mid august of that year, 78% in just three months. based on all this information and what is publicly in the record about what happened in aleppo and russian military you are still not prepared to say that vladimir putin and his military violated the rules of war and conducted war crimes in aleppo? >> those are very serious charges to make and i want more information before making conclusion. i'm sure there is a body of record in the classified domain. and i think in order to deal with a serious question like this -- >> mr. tillerson -- >> i would want to be fully informed before advising the
president sfp. >> i encourage you, there is so much information out there that what happened in aleppo, leaving the chechen issue aside. what happened there is clearly documented as well. there is so much information out there. it should not be hard it say that putin's military conducted war crimes in aleppo. it is never acceptable, would you agree, for military to specifically target civilians that is what happened there. i find it discouraging your inability to cite that, which i think is globally accepted. in my last minute and half here i want it move quickly to an additional quickly. i want to enter two things into the record mr. chairman won't objection. >> without objection. >> journalists he and critics of putin who suspiciously died under suspicious circumstancees. second thing to ebt here nter i record is a letter addressed to this committee by morza who himself was mysteriously
poisoned and is an opponent of the putin regime. i would like to enter that into the record. >> without objection. >> mr. tillerson, do you believe putin and his cronies are responsible for the murder of journalists and political opponent. >> i do not have is ysufficient information to make that claim. >> are you aware that people who do not agree with putin wined up dead all over the world. do you believe it is like lily, i believe, they were murdering their political opponent. >> people in regimes that are o oppressive are often a 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 is important that it advising the president, if confirmed, that i deal with facts, that i deal with sufficient information,
which means access to all information and i'm sure there is a large body of information that i've never seen 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 publicly -- >> none of this is classified. these people are dead. political opponent -- >> your question is people 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 it take this opportunity to expand upon the conversation we had last week. since you've worked in one sector for one company true throughout your entire career, get heing 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.
i would reich to go throughlike series of questions. mostly yes or no. some may need a longer answer. do you believe he it is in the interest of the united states to continue to support international law answers norms established after world war ii? >> yes, sir. >> do you believe that the international order includes respecting the territorial integrity of sovereign countries and viability of their borders? >> yes, sir. >> did russia violate this international order when it forcefully in crimea and invaded ukraine. >> yes, it did. >> did it violate international laws and norms? >> i'm not sure which specific countries you are referring to. >> annexation of crimea. >> yes, sir. >> 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 access constitute war crimes? >> again, senator, i'm 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 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 is in the public realm. i want confirmation from agencies who would present me with indisputable facts. >> senator, menendez -- >> if you won't take my time. >> no, it will be added back. >> that testimony from earlier today. now live to the