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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson faced lawmakers at his confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

Russia’s ties to the next administration was the focus of the hearing. Tillerson started off saying Russia “poses a danger” and said the US must be “clear-eyed” about its relationship them.

But Democrats on the Senate panel expressed their concerns about Tillerson’s personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir-Putin.

Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) asked, “Mr. Tillerson, I’m sure you can understand why I, and many of my colleagues, are concerned about your direct relationship with Vladimir Putin.”

Related: Black Lawmakers Say Sessions Unfit To Be Attorney General

Tillerson says he’s not blinded by his relationship with Putin.

“While Russia seeks respect and relevance on the global stage, its recent activities have disregarded American interests,” said Tillerson.

Democrats also tried to dig into allegations regarding President-elect Donald Trump’s connection with Russia and how Mr. Tillerson will respond.

Related: Florida Sen. Rubio To Tillerson: ‘Is Putin A War Criminal?’

“How much information do you have about financial connections between President-Elect Trump, the Trump family or the Trump organization and Russian individuals or organizations or the Russian government,” asked Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).

“I have no knowledge,” said Tillerson.

Tillerson also acknowledged he – unlike President-Elect Trump – believes in climate change.

Tillerson called on American leadership to be renewed and asserted.

“We backtracked on commitments we made to allies. We sent weak or mixed signals with ‘red lines’ that turned into green lights,” Tillerson said.


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