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Key Senators Support Tillerson For U.S. Secretary Of State

U.S. Republican Senators John McCain (left) and Lindsey Graham (file photo)

U.S. Senators John McCain (Republican-Arizona) and Lindsey Graham (Republican-South Carolina) say they will support former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state despite the nominee's close ties to Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

McCain and Graham said in a joint statement that although they "still have concerns" about Tillerson's previous dealings with Russia and Putin, they "believe that Mr. Tillerson can be an effective advocate for U.S. interests."

McCain said on U.S. television station ABC on January 22 that it "wasn't an easy call" and he was "very cautious" in pledging to support Tillerson when the Senate votes on his nomination, scheduled for January 23.

McCain and Graham said Tillerson convinced them he was deserving of his support following some private meetings "and much discussion."

The two senators and colleague Marco Rubio (Republican-Florida) have all voiced concerns about Tillerson because of his ties to Russia as head of ExxonMobil.

Along with Tillerson, a Senate vote is expected the same day on Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo (Republican-Kansas) to become director of the CIA.

But Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (Democrat-New York) said on January 22 that his Democratic Party won't be rushing to confirming President Donald Trump's cabinet nominees.

Schumer said that there will be "a thorough debate" for many other nominees.

Only two of Trump's cabinet nominees have been approved thus far.

Based on reporting by AP and Politico