Trump Says He Disagrees With His Cabinet Picks

Washington, Donald Trump has maintained his position of seeking normalized relations with Russia even as his chief foreign policy cabinet nominees have strongly criticized Moscow during their confirmation hearings in the Senate.
Trump has remained consistent since his campaign for president about the importance of strong U.S.-Russia cooperation.
“If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks? That’s called an asset, not a liability,” Trump said at his news conference last week. “Russia can help us fight ISIS.” Earlier this month he tweeted: “Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing, Only ‘stupid’ people, or fools, would think that it is bad! We have enough problems around the world without yet another one.” On Saturday Trump said he might lift sanctions on Russia imposed by the Obama administration over differences on Ukraine.
But at ongoing Senate hearings to confirm their nominations, Trump’s nominees to run the State Department and the Pentagon both took starkly different positions, strongly criticizing Russia.
Gen. James Mattis, Trump’s pick for defense secretary, on Thursday told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Russia was trying to “break NATO” and to be confronted.
“I’m all for engagement, but we also have to recognize reality,” Mattis said. “There’s a decreasing number of areas where we can engage cooperatively and increasing numbers of areas where we’re going to have to confront Russia.” Mattis also said he favored a permanent presence of armed US forces in the Baltics.
Rex Tillerson, the ExxonMobil chief executive who is Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the US response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 after a referendum there was not strong enough.
Nominees for cabinet positions have been known for telling Senate committees what they want to hear in order to win confirmation. How they behave in office will determine their actual positions.
In the meantime Trump said he had no problem with his nominees disagreeing with him. He told reporters Friday he wants them to “say what you want to say,” he told reporters Friday in New York. “I may be right, they may be right.” Trump also tweeted: “I want them to be themselves and express their own thoughts, not mine!” Under the US Constitution, the Senate can reject nominees for senior cabinet positions, though there is no indication so far that the Senate will turn down Trump’s.

Source: Qatar News Agency