Former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson Grilled About Russian Foreign Policy at Confirmation Hearings

The man who could be the nation's top diplomat answered questions about his close relationship with Putin and whether he thought the Russian leader was a war criminal.
2:59 | 01/11/17

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Transcript for Former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson Grilled About Russian Foreign Policy at Confirmation Hearings
In the meantime, the showdown on capitol hill today. On the hot seat, the president-elect's choice for secretary of state. Rex tillerson. And the toughest questioning coming from a prominent Republican. There is new reporting at this hour. Could that Republican end up voting against tillerson? ABC's Mary Bruce back on the hill tonight. Reporter: The man who could be the nation's top diplomat strolled into a grilling about his close relationship with Vladimir Putin. What do you say to criticism that you're too close to Russia? Reporter: Those pictures of them toasting with champagne. Putin giving him Russia's order of friendship award. Former exon CEO Rex tillerson addressed the concerns head-on. We usa also be clear-eyed about our relationship with Russia. Russia today poses a danger. Our nato allies are right to be alarmed at a resurgent Russia. Reporter: So will there be a new relationship? I think the important conversation that we have to have with them is, does Russia want to now and forever be an adversary of the United States? We're not likely to ever be friends. We need to move Russia from being an adversary always to a partner at times. Reporter: He says he believes Russia was behind the campaign hacking, but wouldn't say whether he supports the Obama administration's new sanctions. I ask based on your views, for something like this involving the United States elections to have happened without Vladimir Putin knowing about it, and authorizing it. I think that's a fair assumption. That he would have? Reporter: But Marco Rubio pushed further, citing Russia's role in the killing of millions of civilians in aleppo, Syria. Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal? I would not use that term, no. Mr. Tillerson, do you believe that Vladimir Putin is responsible for ordering the murder of journalists and political opponents? I do not have sufficient information to make that claim. None of this is classified information. These people are dead. Reporter: He says he and president-elect trump have talked about foreign policy, but not Russia. I thought Russia would be at the top of that considering the actions taking place. Did that not happen? That has not occurred yet, senator. That's pretty amazing. And Mary Bruce with us from capitol hill tonight, and Mary, senator Marco Rubio, we saw there grilling Rex tillerson, and the senator not happy with what he heard, and he is not committing anything. Reporter: After testimony, Marco Rubio is not convinced. They need moral clarity, and he is not sure tillerson can deliver. If Rubio does not support tillerson, he may not pass a vote, and that could put his confirmation in real jeopardy. David. Mary Bruce, thanks, Mary. Thanks to a direct appeal of

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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