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Rubio meets with Tillerson ahead of confirmation hearing

 via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Marco Rubio met Monday evening with Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, whose ties to Vladimir Putin have raised concerns with Rubio and other lawmakers.

“I appreciate Mr. Tillerson’s visit and for taking the time to begin discussing with me the challenges America faces around the world,” Rubio said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. “I look forward to his confirmation hearing later this week.”

Rubio’s office did not detail the conversation but undoubtedly Russia came up. Rubio is a key vote on the Foreign Relations Committee, which will begin Tillerson’s confirmation hearing on Wednesday morning.

In December, Rubio "While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination. "The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, is free of potential conflicts of interest, has a clear sense of America's interests, and will be a forceful advocate for America's foreign policy goals to the president, within the administration, and on the world stage. I look forward to learning more about his record and his views.‎ I will do my part to ensure he receives a full and fair but also thorough hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee."

Monday afternoon in Tampa about 75 people showed up outside Rubio's Tampa office to protest Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO, on environmental grounds.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times