Arguing America must reassert its interests, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, tried to allay concerns that a Trump administration will pull back from the world or ignore threats from rivals. He said Russia poses a “danger” to the nation. A friend of the Kremlin and foe of sanctions in his corporate life, Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he would help usher in a new era of U.S. leadership on the global stage as America’s top diplomat. Tilllerson said recent Russian actions “disregarded American interests” and alarmed U.S. allies, even if cooperation between Washington and Moscow remained desirable on a range of issues. Despite Tillerson’s broad assessment of threats, Russia was sure to be foremost on senators’ minds. Several lawmakers have spoken about scrutinizing his and Exxon’s two-decade relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and others in Moscow. The claims by U.S. intelligence agencies of Russian hacking in the election, and an unsubstantiated account that Russia had assembled a dossier with salacious charges against Trump, were only likely to reinforce those concerns. Tillerson, who has a two-decade relationship with Putin and received from him the Order of Friendship in 2013, said the former Cold War adversary “poses a danger” that must be taken seriously.
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Newsline: Trump’s pick for top diplomat calls Russia a ‘danger’