Tillerson meeting with Congress ahead of confirmation hearing

Rex Tillerson, chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corp., speaks during the 2015 IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. CERAWeek 2015, in its 34th year, will provide new insights and critically-important dialogue with decision-makers in the oil and gas, electric power, coal, renewables, and nuclear sectors from around the world. Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson at a conference in Houston in 2015. (Photo: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg)

WASHINGTON – Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil CEO and President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, is meeting with members of Congress Wednesday ahead of an expected nomination hearing next week.

Among those with whom Tillerson wimeeting is Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is leading the Democratic review of the myriad foreign ties Tillerson established over a more than 35-year career at the Irving-based oil giant.

And in a much anticipated meeting, Tillerson is expected to sit down with Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. McCain, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., have raised questions around Tillerson’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who McCain called a “thug and a murderer,” last month.

Cardin requested last month Tillerson turn over his last three years of tax returns. In a questionnaire submitted to the Senate committee, Tillerson indicated he would comply with the request but as of Wednesday morning, staff had not received the returns, a senior aide on the committee said.

Cardin is at odds with Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, over the need to review the tax returns. But Cardin will continue to push for the returns’ release, the aide said.

“I think it is an important part of vetting this candidate because he has never made public disclosures of this type, as he has worked at ExxonMobil for his entire career and has never been in public service. Mr. Tillerson was actively engaged with many foreign governments that could become relevant if confirmed as Secretary of State. The Senate has a responsibility to review all relevant documents during the confirmation process,” Cardin said in a letter to Democrats late last month.

Tillerson is already moving ahead in trying to clear up concern around his considerable wealth. Exxon Mobil announced Tuesday Tillerson would relinquish control of $240 million in Exxon stock to comply with conflict of interest regulations.

No date has been scheduled for Tillerson’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But Corker has requested the hearing be held Wednesday, Jan. 11.