By the time the first day of hearings for Donald Trump’s secretary-of-state pick concluded, Rex Tillerson had expressed a range of opinions at odds with those of his future boss. As Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) noted, Tillerson’s views on Muslims, Russian aggression, Saudi Arabia, NATO, the Paris climate agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, nuclear arms, and more were notably different from Trump’s campaign statements.
“All of these to me are quite encouraging,” Coons said. “But these suggest some tensions with the president-elect.”
Asked about how he’d resolve these differences with Trump’s stated views, Tillerson said:
“One of the reasons I came to the conclusion…to say yes to President-elect Trump when he asked me to do this, is that [in] my conversations with him on the subjects we have discussed…he’s been very open and inviting of hearing my views and respectful of those views. In terms of my categorizing it as my pushing back on him, my sense is we’re going to have all the views presented [at the] table and everyone will have an opportunity to express those and make the case. And the president decides.”
Throughout the hearing, the former Exxon Mobil CEO said he had not been briefed, examined the evidence, or received proper security clearances in order to answer questions on a range of international policy issues.
Coons wasn’t the only senator to note the contrast with Trump. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) observed, “Many of these statements have been undercut by earlier statements by the president-elect.”
Earlier in the day, Shaheen asked Tillerson if he would be willing to divest from Exxon Mobil stock. Tillerson replied that he would. She noted yet another difference with Trump—this one in his approach to his holdings. “I’m sad to say, it stands in stark contrast to what Trump had to say today,” she said. “That he’s not going to divest from his vast interests around the world?.”