WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) this evening announced that he will support the nomination of Rex Tillerson to serve as U.S. Secretary of State and oppose the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to serve as Attorney General. Senator King released the following statement:
“After speaking personally with him, watching his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and seeking the advice of several former high-level national security and foreign affairs officials, I have arrived at the conclusion that Mr. Tillerson can and will effectively lead the State Department and serve as a critical moderating influence on and counterweight to the more impulsive forces within the current Administration. I still harbor concerns regarding Mr. Tillerson’s past connections to Russia, as well as some activities that occurred at ExxonMobil during his tenure, but, on balance, those concerns are ultimately outweighed by the need to have a strong and serious leader at the helm of the State Department – someone who can offer the President forceful, but thoughtful and measured judgment on the critical issues we face.
“I have also met with Senator Sessions, attended his confirmation hearing, and extensively reviewed his record. While I consider Senator Sessions a friend, I am not voting to confirm a friendship. I am voting to confirm the next Attorney General of the United States. And I believe that this individual will need to stand up to the President when they believe he is wrong. While I certainly have concerns with Senator Sessions’ record, ultimately, I am concerned that he will not approach this critical role with the independence that is required, and that, as a result, the President could exercise an unchallenged influence in the affairs of the Justice Department, which must often take objective positions that may be at variance with the views of the Administration. It is never easy to vote against a colleague, and it is not done out of personal dislike or disaffection for him, but out of what I believe is in the best interests of Maine and the nation.”