WASHINGTON Dec 12 Contenders for
President-elect Donald Trump's two top diplomatic roles, Rex
Tillerson and John Bolton, will face a tough review in
confirmation hearings in a U.S. Senate led by Trump's fellow
Lawmakers from both major political parties have raised
concerns about Tillerson, president and chief executive of Exxon
Mobil Corp who has close ties with Russia and has met
Russian President Vladimir Putin several times, and about
Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who has
voiced hawkish views on Iraq and Iran.
Tillerson emerged over the weekend as Trump's expected pick
for secretary of state. Bolton has been mentioned as a possible
No. 2 State Department official. Trump is due to succeed
President Barack Obama on Jan. 20.
Washington and Moscow are at odds over a range of issues
that include Syria, Ukraine and NATO's presence in eastern
In television interviews on Monday, Trump's senior adviser
Kellyanne Conway said Tillerson is a "leading candidate" for the
top diplomat job and a decision may come this week.
During a Monday news conference, Senate Majority Leader
Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said he was optimistic Trump's
nominees would be confirmed by the Senate, but he declined to
comment on any future nominees such as Tillerson.
McConnell called all of Trump's choices so far "pretty
Senator Charles Schumer, the incoming Democratic leader,
told CBS "This Morning" that "The bottom line is, every one of
these nominees, particularly a guy like Tillerson, needs a
thorough, thorough hearing."
"He'll be questioned thoroughly, should he be the nominee,
and all of these allegations and talks about his closeness with
Putin will come forward," Schumer said.
During Trump's campaign for the Nov. 8 election, Democrats
and longtime government officials voiced alarm when Trump
repeatedly praised Putin, suggesting they would "get along very
On Sunday, Senator John McCain, a Republican who lost the
2008 presidential race to Obama, said of Tillerson: "It's a
matter of concern to me that he has such a close personal
relationship with Vladimir Putin and obviously they've done
enormous deals together. That would color his approach to
Vladimir Putin and the Russian threat."
McCain, now chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee,
added that Tillerson would get a fair confirmation hearing.
CONCERNS ABOUT BOLTON
Bolton also has raised bipartisan concern. On Sunday,
Republican Senator Rand Paul said he would work to stop Bolton
from being confirmed to any Trump administration post.
"His world view is naive," Paul said on ABC's "This
Week." "He still believes in regime change. He's still a big
cheerleader for the Iraq war. He's promoted a nuclear attack by
Israel on Iran. He wants to do regime change in Iran."
In 2005, then-President George W. Bush installed Bolton as
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in a temporary, "recess
appointment" that sidestepped U.S. Senate confirmation. He took
that step after Democrats used procedural rules in place at the
time to block the nomination.
Bolton left the job at the end of 2006 when the temporary
appointment was ending.
Since then, Senate rules have changed, making it harder for
a minority of senators to stop judicial and executive branch
nominations. Republicans will hold a 52-48 majority in the
Senate session that begins on Jan. 3.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Writing by Richard Cowan; Editing
by Howard Goller)