This far Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson has been the only Trump cabinet nomination to take any appreciable friendly fire. Marco Rubio came within a hair of saying he would not support him during the hearing. McCain also expressed concern over Tillerson’s reluctance to endorse sanctions against Russia. The opposition was real enough that Bob Corker announced last week that he would move the nomination to the Senate floor even it his own committee voted it down.
Today on This Week, George Stephanopoulos asked McCain about Tillerson:
STEPHANOPOULOS: When you mentioned the president’s national security team, you didn’t mention his nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. Have you decided how you’re going to vote on his nomination?
MCCAIN: I will be voting in favor of his nomination. I have had numerous conversations with him. And, again, my concerns have been about our relations with Russia. And his past relations, I believe — and I’m very cautious about this — but I believe that Mr. Tillerson understands the importance of a steadfast and strong relationship —
STEPHANOPOULOS: How did he assure you?
MCCAIN: Well, he talked to me a lot about his views about Russia, about the events that have taken place, about the fact of what his duties were as a head of one of the world’s largest corporations.
Listen, this wasn’t an easy call. But I also believe that, when there’s doubt, the president, the incoming president, gets the benefit of the doubt. And that’s the way I have treated every president that I have had the obligation to vote for or against as a member of the United States Senate.
The committee votes on Tillerson on Monday. Then we’ll see what Rubio does. My bet is “the president deserves the right to choose his team,” or words to that effect, will figure prominently.