Rex Tillerson Refuses to Label Vladimir Putin a “War Criminal”

Marco Rubio grills Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state.


Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) confronted Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state Rex Tillerson on Wednesday over his close ties to Vladimir Putin, asking the former Exxon Mobil CEO if he believed the Russian leader should be labeled a “war criminal.”

“I would not use that term,” Tillerson responded.

Tillerson claimed that he did not have sufficient information to charge Putin with committing war crimes, even when pressed with the Russian president’s record in Aleppo and evidence he authorized the use of battlefield weapons to kill civilians. Tillerson also refused to say if Putin was behind the killing of dissidents and journalists in Russia.

“Those are very, very serious charges to make and I would want to have much more information before reaching a conclusion,” Tillerson said. “I understand that there is a body of record in the public domain—I’m sure there is a body of record in the classified domain. And I think that in order to deal with a serious question like this, I would want to be fully informed before advising the president.”

Rubio, who has been a vocal critic of Trump’s views on Russia, called Tillerson’s answers “discouraging.”

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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