Rex Tillerson responds to John McCain's criticism

Trump could pick new FBI director by 'next week'

Tillerson's comments in a May 14 television interview with NBC follow Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's visit to Washington last week that included a meeting with President Donald Trump.

Tillerson assured Todd that he has "a great relationship with the president", suggesting that it's specifically because he does "understand what his objectives are".

Tillerson, who ran Exxon Mobil before serving as one of Trump's top Cabinet positions, also said he is not concerned about his own independence from the President following Comey's dismissal. And so that's my only line.

CNN said State released the same statement more than 20 minutes after Tillerson's remarks were distributed by the White House.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today that the Trump administration is not giving Russian Federation a "free pass" on interference in last year's US election.

"I think it just speaks to a level of dysfunction at the State Department, in terms of at least the communications effort that I think is truly remarkable", Kirby said.

Tillerson said that debate over Comey's firing doesn't affect him and that he understands the line between serving the president and serving the people. "And my values are those of the country".

He ruled out relaunching relations with a "clean slate", similar to the attempt at a "reset" by former president Barack Obama and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, in 2009.

Tillerson acknowledged that sour relations between Russian Federation and the US are "not healthy for the world" or for USA national security, but he was sober in his assessment of the future.

In the interview, Tillerson covered a range of foreign policy issues.

"We're starting with the slate we have, and all the problems that are on that slate", he said.

The instability, although driven by Trump, has in some ways extended and amplified the effect Russian Federation sought to achieve with its unprecedented campaign to undermine the 2016 presidential race.

The secretary of State during the interview also addressed the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, noting the USA isn't trying to start "with a clean state" with Russia.

Trump's presidency has been dogged by the Russian-meddling allegations and investigations by the FBI and congressional committees about contacts between his associates and Russian officials.

Trump is "listening to input from all interested parties in the region and understanding, in the context of a peace initiative, what impact would such a move have", he said.

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