‘Fair assumption’ Putin behind 2016 hack, says Tillerson, yet leavening door open for better Russia ties

US President-elect Donald Trump’s designated secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, says it is a “fair assumption” that Russian President Vladimir Putin played a role in the 2016 presidential election hack, yet leavening the door open for better ties with Russia by refusing to brand him as a “war criminal” over Moscow’s efforts in Aleppo.

During a Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, the former chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil producer, was grilled over the matter as well as his stance on the climate change.

“I would not use that term,” Tillerson said in response to Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who asked if he believed the Russian president should be called a “war criminal” over the country’s support for Syria. “Those are very, very serious charges to make and I would want to have much more information.”

On the other hand, the 64-year-old asserted that he supported maintaining current US…

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