Press Releases

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement in opposition to Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State:

“I rise today in opposition to Rex Tillerson’ nomination to be our next Secretary of State. I don’t believe Mr. Tillerson is an appropriate selection to be our nation’s chief diplomat.

During his confirmation hearing, Mr. Tillerson repeatedly evaded questions related to transparency and corporate responsibility. For instance, on multiple occasions Mr. Tillerson stated that he was unaware of Exxon’s history of lobbying Congress.

Yet, according to lobbying disclosure forms, Exxon lobbied against a variety of Iran and Russia-related sanctions since at least 2010. When pressed on the matter, Mr. Tillerson even claimed he didn’t know if Exxon lobbied for or against these energy-related sanctions bills.

Additionally, I’m troubled by Mr. Tillerson’s response to questions about Exxon’s dealings with Iran, Syria and Sudan. According to public documents, Exxon established a joint venture with Shell to conduct business with state sponsors of terror. That joint venture—Infineum—sold petroleum products to Iran, Sudan and Syria, when those nations were being sanctioned by the United States.

During that time, Mr. Tillerson rose from senior vice president to president and director, and eventually to chairman and CEO of Exxon. Yet, during his testimony, Mr. Tillerson claimed to be unaware of Infineum’s purposeful evasion of sanctions.

Instead of recognizing the larger national interest, Mr. Tillerson suggested that American companies could legally avoid sanctions by setting up shell companies outside of the United States.

Infineum is not the only example of Exxon’s history of undermining American policy. Under Mr. Tillerson’s leadership, Exxon signed oil exploration contracts with the Kurds in Iraq. Doing so undermined the United States’ ‘one Iraq’ policy and exacerbated the long-simmering conflict between the central government and the Kurds.

That is because Exxon signed contracts to explore oil at six sites. Three of those sites were on disputed land claimed by both the Kurds and the Iraqi central government. By agreeing to explore in disputed territory on behalf of the Kurds, Exxon changed the facts on the ground in favor of the Kurds. Exxon’s decision may have been good for Exxon, but it certainly did not benefit a stable, unified Iraq.

I’m also concerned by Mr. Tillerson’s response to questions about Russia.

Russia has invaded Ukraine, annexed Crimea, intervened in Syria and meddled in our own elections. Yet, Mr. Tillerson refuses to offer support for international sanctions against Russia. He refuses to describe Russia’s bombing of Syrian hospitals and schools—and a UN humanitarian aid convoy—as war crimes.

Russia remains in violation of the Minsk agreement, continues to occupy Crimea, indiscriminately bomb in Syria and hack American think tanks. Now is not the time to remove sanctions against Russia and I have little confidence Mr. Tillerson is committed to pushing back against Russian aggression.

Finally, Mr. Tillerson’s indifference to the two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians is unacceptable. Specifically, Mr. Tillerson said that a two-state solution is a “dream” and openly questioned whether or not it could ever become a reality.

The reality is that without a two-state solution, Israel cannot be both a democracy and a majority-Jewish state. Today, Israel is constructing settlements throughout the West Bank. Palestinian terror and incitement continue. Mr. Tillerson’s almost casual dismissal of the two-state solution is disqualifying for a Secretary of State.

Our chief diplomat must understand the urgency of the situation and must be willing to engage both sides in the pursuit of peace. I simply do not believe Mr. Tillerson is interested in doing so.

Mr. Tillerson’s lack of transparency, history of working against our national interests, close ties to Russia and indifference to Israel’s future make him unfit to serve as the Secretary of State.

I intend to oppose Mr. Tillerson, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”