President-elect Trump’s pick for secretary of state has experience negotiating with countries like Russia and will be willing to tell Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘no,’ a Trump spokesman said Tuesday.

Jason Miller said on CNN that Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, may have close ties to Putin and Russia through his business dealings. But, those same business dealings will mean that his close relationship with Putin is based on being able to say “no.”

“Rex Tillerson is someone who’s stood up and told Vladimir Putin ‘no,'” Miller said. “He’s also someone who’s stood up and said, ‘We’ll find a way to work together on things.'”

Tillerson beat out a crowded race for the nation’s top diplomatic spot in the Trump administration but many are concerned about his relationship with Russia. Tillerson worked with Putin often on negotiating oil deals in Russia and received the Order of Friendship award from Russia.

Republicans in the Senate such as Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. John McCain have already drawn a line in the sand over Tillerson’s possible appointment.

Miller brushed away those concerns and said those relationships built through business dealings will serve the United States well.

“He has those relationships that when he goes and sits down, the trust has already been proven,” Miller said.

Trump chooses Exxon Mobil's Rex Tillerson for secretary of state

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President-elect Trump was expected to name Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his nominee to lead the State Department Tuesday morning, making a bet that the oil titan’s experience negotiating international energy deals would make him a capable top diplomat.

Several reports late Monday said Tillerson had been named, and former Gov. Mitt Romney said Monday he was no longer in the running.

If he is the nominee, Tillerson’s business background would give him a lower-profile among voters than the most recent secretaries of state with political backgrounds, although he is still well-known in political circles. A longtime Republican donor, his status as leader of one of the largest companies in the world gave him plenty of experience

12/12/16 11:11 PM

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