Tillerson on Russia: No 'free pass' on election interference


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in an interview to be broadcast on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that he is unconcerned about his independence in the wake of President Donald Trump firing FBI Director James Comey.

"We're starting with the slate we have".

The former ExxonMobil CEO, who was decorated in 2013 by Russian President Vladimir Putin, had said previously that the relationship between the two nuclear powers had hit its lowest point since the Soviet collapse in 1991.

Tillerson said the Washington political debate over Comey's firing does not affect him and his relationship with Trump.

Judging from this exchange, Chuck Todd seems like he would definitely be a more trustworthy Secretary of State than Rex Tillerson, and Tillerson was interesting for what it didn't reveal.

Tillerson acknowledged that sour relations between Russian Federation and the USA are "not healthy for the world" or for US national security, but he was sober in his assessment of the future.

"The president, I think, has made it clear that he feels it's important that we reengage with Russia", Tillerson said, emphasizing that it's in the interest of the American people for the relationship to improve.

But when host Chuck Todd asked him where he would draw the line for Trump, he said: "I will never compromise my own values, Chuck". "We don't dismiss any of them. It's going to take a lot of hard work". "And I think if we are successful in achieving our ultimate diplomatic and national security objectives, we will create the conditions for the advancement of freedom in countries all over the world".

US intelligence has also accused the Kremlin of directing a hacking and influence campaign aimed at helping Trump, who says he wants to improve ties with Moscow, defeat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the November presidential election.

And you know, these are not new tactics on the part of the Russian government, directed not only at us but at others.

Tillerson said the United States and Russian Federation have numerous major issues to consider, but said he has no question in his own mind that Russian Federation interfered.

Trump tweeted Friday that the story that there was collusion between his campaign and Russian Federation was "fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election".

However, "it's inconclusive as to what, if any, effect it had", he added.