Rex Tillerson looked flat-footed as the hearing on his nomination restarted after a lunch break.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) pressed him on Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte’s boasts of personally killing drug dealers and other suspected felons. Tillerson said he’d need to learn more about it. An astonished Rubio noted Duterte had bragged about it himself. Tillerson said he didn’t have access to information Rubio had. Rubio said he was quoting the Los Angeles Times.
Finally Tillerson said: “I don’t think any of us would agree that that is the way to deal with offenders no matter how egregious those facts might be.”
Pressed by Rubio, Tillerson defended the direction, if not the pace, of human rights progress in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, where women have only recently gained limited rights.
“The pace has been slow slower than any of us would wish but there is a change underway in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “What I do believe is that it is moving in the direction we want it to move…What I’d like to avoid is something that would cause them to disrupt that.”