Rex Tillerson 'Would Not' Call Putin a War Criminal

The nominee for secretary of state faced questions from Sen. Marco Rubio about Russia's involvement in Aleppo.
4:38 | 01/11/17

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Transcript for Rex Tillerson 'Would Not' Call Putin a War Criminal
Despite her food and a war criminal. Our not use that term. Well let me describe the situation and a wacko and perhaps that will help you reach that conclusion. In electro mister Bruton has directed his military to conduct a devastating campaign's target schools. Markets not just assisted the Syrians and doing it his military has targeted schools and markets and other civilian infrastructure it's resulted. In the death of thousands of civilians. This is not the first time mr. Putin is involved in campaigns of this kind. Back when he was just appointed prime minister before it was elected and Hampshire where of that period of time. There was a series of bombings and they blame that on the tensions. And mr. Putin personally but said that he would punish them so he ordered the air force to bomb the Chechen capital Grozny. They use scud missiles to hit hospitals the city's main outdoor markets packed with shoppers. 137 people died instantly they used thermal American fuel air explosive bombs these of the bonds at night. And they burn the air breathed in by people were hiding in basements they use cluster munitions he is battlefield weapons against civilians and one was all said and done. An estimated 300000 civilians were killed. And the city was completely destroyed by the way there's credible. A body of reporting. Open source and other. That this was all almost bombings are part of a black flag operation on the part of the FSB. And if you want another motivation his what it is Putin's approval ratings before the attacks against the checked into that 31%. By mid August of that year it was at 78% in just three months so. Based on all this information and what's publicly in the record about what's happening a lot on the Russian military. You're still not prepared to say that Vladimir Putin has military have violated the rules of war. Have conducted war crimes in a lot. And those are very very serious. Charges tonight and out won't have much more information before reaching a conclusion. I understand there's a body of record in the public domain. I'm sure there's a body of record in the class but don't mind. I think in order in order deal with the answers question like this shows and that's half hour I was in the pub probably in the video and pictures of Italy and form. Before advising president while I encourage either. So much heaven there's so much information out there about what's happening a lot believe in the Chechen issue aside what happened there is clearly documented as well. There's so much information out there is should not be hard to say the Vladimir Putin's military has conducted war crimes and a lot though because is never acceptable you would agree. For military to specifically target civilians which is what's happening here through the Russian military and and I find it discouraging your inability. Since two site that which I think its global acceptance. I want to in my last minute and half year move really quickly. To an additional question of fact I want in a few things in the record was chairman without objection of that action. The first is a partial list of political dissidents journalists and critics of Vladimir Putin who were suspiciously murdered or died under holly suspicious circumstances. The second thing I want in or into the record as a letter. Addressed of this committee. By garner cars move mirrors who himself was mysteriously poisoned and it's an opponent of the potent losing. Like in. Mr. Tillerson do you believe. That. Vladimir Putin and his cronies are responsible for ordering the murder. Of countless dissidents journalists and political opponents. I do not have sufficient information to make that point. Are you aware that people who oppose Vladimir Putin wind up dead all over the world poisoned shot in the back of the head and you think that was coincidental or do you think that is quite possible or likely as I believe that they were part of an effort to murder his political opponents. Well people who speak up for freedom and not regimes that are repressive. Or are often a threat and in this and they six happened to him. In terms of assigning specific responsibilities. I would have to have more information as I indicated up. Appeal it's important that it is advising the president if confirmed that I deal with facts that there was sufficient information. Which means having access to all information and I'm sure there's a large body of information that up never seen it's in the classified real. Look forward if confirmed to become who becoming fully informed but I'm not willing to make conclusions. On waters only publicly available or have been publicly were. None of this is classified mosquitoes in these people are dead. Political opponents of your question was sent to your question most people who were directly responsible for that. I'm not disputing these people are dead.

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

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