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Schumer responds to Trump's pick for secretary of state

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer.
File photo
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer.

President-elect Donald Trump named the head of Exxon Mobil, Rex Tillerson, as his choice for U.S. secretary of state on Tuesday, saying the oil executive with close to ties to Russia's "tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice."

Tillerson's business relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin are certain to draw scrutiny, according to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. At an unrelated news conference, Schumer said, though he has concerns that need to be addressed, he could be open to giving Tillerson a chance. 

"​​I'm not going to prejudge him but I think he has to be asked particularly about his relationship with Putin," the senator said, "because he has sought to get rid of any sanctions on Russia because Exxon Mobil wants to drill oil in Russia."

Tillerson, who has served as Exxon’s CEO since 2006, has no government experience. 

Trump, however, said he sees the business leader's ties with Moscow as a selling point, along with his "vast experience at dealing successfully with all types of foreign governments." 

The pick comes amid growing concerns over a CIA report that Russia actively tried to boost Trump’s chances in the U.S. presidential election.

"There may be a conflict of interest. I have a lot of questions before I would vote for him," Schumer said.

Sasha-Ann Simons joined the team at WXXI News in 2015 as a Multimedia Reporter/Producer. She tells stories about the innovation economy and technology in upstate New York and also does general assignment reporting. Sasha-Ann is the host of Arts InFocus, WXXI-TV's weekly arts and culture program. She is also a fill-in host and regular contributor to Need To Know.