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Rex Tillerson secretary of state confirmation hearings set



Updated: Tuesday, January 3, 2017, 2:28 PM

Confirmation hearings for Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, will begin next week, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Tuesday.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said the hearings are expected to last two days, with the first session tentatively scheduled for Jan. 11, and a follow-up hearing the next day.

Tillerson’s hearings could be explosive. The prospective top diplomat has served as the Chairman and CEO of international oil behemoth ExxonMobil since 2006, having worked for the company for 43 years, and has no prior experience in public service.

Tillerson also, controversially, enjoys a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin — a curious connection that has already prompted an onslaught of criticism from lawmakers in both political parties.

He was honored last year by Putin with the nation’s Order of Friendship and has spoken out against U.S. sanctions on Russia.

Corker said that Tillerson will, ahead of the hearings, provide the committee with a detailed financial disclosure statement.

Robert Lighthizer, Trump’s pick for U.S. trade representative, served as a deputy trade czar under President Ronald Reagan.

Robert Lighthizer, Trump’s pick for U.S. trade representative, served as a deputy trade czar under President Ronald Reagan.


The Foreign Relations Committee has a 10-9 GOP advantage, although at least one Republican on it, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), has signaled concerns over Tillerson nomination, meaning the magnate could be blocked from getting the needed approval from the committee to get a full floor vote.

And even if Tillerson makes it through the committee, he’s not guaranteed to win confirmation in the full Senate.

Other Republicans like Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have also voiced reservations about Tillerson.

Meanwhile, Trump’s transition team said Tuesday that he would nominate Robert Lighthizer as his U.S. trade representative.

Lighthizer, who worked in the Ronald Reagan administration as a deputy U.S. trade representative, will work closely with Trump’s secretary of commerce designate Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, the head of the newly created White House National Trade Council, “to develop and implement policies that shrink our trade deficit, expand economic growth, strengthen our manufacturing base and help stop the exodus of jobs from our shores,” the transition team said.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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Donald Trump's road to the White House as President-elect

“Ambassador Lighthizer is going to do an outstanding job representing the United States as we fight for good trade deals that put the American worker first,” Trump added in a statement.

“He has extensive experience striking agreements that protect some of the most important sectors of our economy, and has repeatedly fought in the private sector to prevent bad deals from hurting Americans,” he said.

The announcement puts Trump one step closer to completely filling out his cabinet. He still has vacancies for the secretary of agriculture and secretary of veterans affairs posts.

Trump is also expected to name Marc Short, an aide to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, as his legislative affairs director, Politico reported.

In that job, Short would be responsible for helping to usher Trump’s proposals through Congress.


Trump’s cabinet is nearly filled out — pending senatorial confirmations — and the longtime reality TV host is set to take office on Jan. 20.

(Evan Vucci/AP)

Earlier, top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway said her boss would hold a highly anticipated press conference next week to address how he’ll deal with avoiding conflicts of interest between his administration and his business empire.

Conway, who last month was named a counselor to the President, said Trump could hold the conference Jan. 11, but hinted that the date was not yet set in stone.

“I believe it was rescheduled for Jan. 11, originally, and if the lawyers and the compliance officers feel like we're ready, then we'll stick to that date. It's really up to them,” Conway said Monday night on CNN.

Trump had originally scheduled to hold the conference — where he had been slated to divulge specific plans for stepping away from his company while he is in the White House — on Dec. 15, but postponed it. 

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