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Sen. Robert Menendez responds to Bohdan Shandor's Letter

07 Feb 2017 4:46 PM | Myroslaw Smorodsky (Administrator)

Dear Mr. Shandor:


Thank you for contacting me about President Trump’s nomination of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson to serve as Secretary of State.  Your opinion is very important to me, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond to you on this critical issue.  


On January 11, 2017, I had the opportunity to question Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about Exxon’s efforts to lobby against sanctions imposed on Russia and Iran; President Trump’s promise to make Mexico pay to build a wall along our southern border and his past degrading comments about Mexican immigrants; and what efforts he would take, if confirmed, to advance human rights and democracy in nations that are known to operate under repressive and corrupt regimes. 


After carefully considering his nomination to be the Secretary of State, I casted my vote against Mr. Tillerson’s confirmation in both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and on the Senate Floor. 


The role of Secretary of State in today’s increasingly challenging times requires a candidate who possesses extensive experience in foreign policy and the ability work through the complexities of international diplomacy while advancing America’s interests and leadership around the world.  The United States faces numerous challenges and opportunities around the world.  We need a qualified leader to be our Secretary of State who can represent and articulate our foreign policy and national security interests.  Our nation’s top diplomat must be a qualified leader with proven knowledge and regard for the norms and necessities that so much of our modern diplomatic and security efforts depend upon.  Since I expressed my grave concerns over Tillerson's qualifications for the position of Secretary of State, and his clear conflict of interests with Vladimir Putin and Russian oil companies, I have seen nothing to ease my concerns. 


Additionally, I have long fought in the Senate to reduce harmful pollution that contaminates our air and water and changes our climate.  I remain committed to ensuring that the United States fulfills its international obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris climate agreement and continues its transition away from dirty fossil fuels.  I have serious concerns about Mr. Tillerson’s history on climate change at ExxonMobil, and will carefully weigh that history as I evaluate his nomination to be Secretary of State in the Trump Administration.  While Mr. Tillerson has experience in leading a business, deal making is not the same as diplomacy, and we need a diplomat who will lead with the values of democracy, promoting human rights, and promoting long term stability and security for all Americans. 


As a senior member of the Senate committee tasked with vetting our next Secretary of State, I will do everything at my disposal to ensure our nation's next diplomat-in-chief is someone who has the experience, insights and capabilities to truly protect America’s best interests and preserve our essential alliances across the globe. 


Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance.  I invite you to visit my website (http://menendez.senate.gov) to learn more about how I am standing up for New Jersey families in the United States Senate.




United States Senator

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