Texans Rick Perry, Rex Tillerson Aim to Win Over Senators Ahead of Confirmation Hearings

WASHINGTON -- A pair of Texans aiming to join the Trump cabinet are spending the day courting senators ahead of confirmation hearings. Rick Perry, the former governor, is in line to run the Energy Department. ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson -- President-elect Donald Trump's choice for emissary to the world as Secretary of State - has already faced tough questions about his relative coziness with Russia and its strongman president, Vladimir Putin."Russia is not a friend to the United States. We have serious concerns about Russia," said Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the senior Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, after meeting Wednesday afternoon with Tillerson. "That's a strong bipartisan message which you'll hear during the confirmation process. Obviously he did business with Russia. He was able to get things done there, and those relationships will be subject to questions during the confirmation hearings."Tillerson's relationship with Putin, after striking huge deals for exploration in the Russian arctic and other regions, is among the closest of any American executive or political leader. It provides him unusual insight and access to a key international player -- but also fuel concerns, given Trump's friendly views toward Putin, his downplaying of Russian hacks aimed at interfering with the U.S. presidential election, and his apparent reluctance to confront a dangerous adversary.Both Texans will meet Wednesday with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Both face tough questions from their detractors. Environmental groups are dismayed at Trump's choice of two men so friendly to the oil and gas industry.  Continue reading...

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