Amid swirling questions about alleged meddling in U.S. politics by the Kremlin and his own business ties to Russia, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson was set to be grilled by Democrats and Republicans alike Wednesday as he seeks to be confirmed as secretary of state.
A day after a contentious Senate session involving attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions, the audience at Tillerson’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing again appeared to be peppered with protesters. Code Pink activists were dressed in Statue of Liberty garb, just as they were for the Sessions hearing, a man was outfitted in a suit made of money and some protesters were even seen suited up in T-Rex costumes – a play on Tillerson’s name.
Democrats and even traditional GOP hawks are expected to zero in on Tillerson’s role in orchestrating business deals with Russia, which led to President Vladimir Putin awarding him the Order of Friendship in 2013. Exxon and its subsidiaries’ activities in Iran and Iraq, and his environmental views are also likely to be covered, as are suspicions that Tillerson’s focus will be driven by corporate interests at the expense of the nation’s.