Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona says he has “concerns” over President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Secretary of State. During a junket to the Baltic republics, McCain said that he wants oil exec Rex Tillerson to explain his relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin at his confirmation hearing. McCain, who chairs Senate Armed Services Committee, referred to the Russian leader as  "a thug and a murderer".
 
"I and several of my colleagues have concerns about Mr Tillerson, and some of his past activities, specifically his relationship with Vladimir Putin," McCain told a press conference. "I have concerns but at the same time I'm certain we will give Mr Tillerson an opportunity to make his case about why he is qualified to be Secretary of State."
 
The Baltic republics -- Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania -- have been concerned about Russia and its increased bellicosity ever since it invaded Ukraine and seized the Crimean region. The US and NATO forces have stepped up their cooperation with the little countries that face the Baltic Sea and other Eastern European countries such as Poland, as a result
 
As for accusations that Russia supposedly intervened in the past election, Trump has said that the United States should move on. But McCain wants reassurances that elections that elections should be free of foreign influence. “I agree with president elect that we need to get on of our lives - without having elections being affected by any outside influence, especially Vladimir Putin, who is a thug and a murderer," he said.
 
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters that sanctions should be put into place against Russia to target areas such and aimed at Putin. "I think the sanctions need to go beyond what it is today, they need to name Putin as an individual and his inner circle because nothing happens in Russia without his knowledge and approval," Graham said.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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