VILNIUS - US President-elect Donald Trump's choice for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, will have to explain his relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin at his confirmation hearing, senior Republican senator John McCain said on Thursday.
McCain, who is chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, also called President Putin "a thug and a murderer."
Speaking on a tour of the Baltic states, where there is widespread concern that Moscow wants to reassert its power across the region, McCain said he had concerns about Tillerson, who opposed sanctions on Russia after its annexation of Crimea.
"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 reporters.
"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."