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Exclusive—Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin Backs Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State: Trump’s Pick ‘Honorable and Patriotic’

Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia becomes the first Democrat to publicly back President Donald J. Trump’s selection for Secretary of State in ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, telling Breitbart News exclusively he considers the president’s selection to represent the United States on the world stage to be “honorable and patriotic.”

Manchin told Breitbart News:

As a former Governor, I understand how crucial it is for an executive leader to have his team in place to conduct our nation’s foreign affairs. I have known Rex Tillerson for years through our work with the Boy Scouts of America and know him to be honorable and patriotic. I have no hesitation in supporting Rex Tillerson’s confirmation to be Secretary of State after the Office of Government Ethics described his ethics agreement as a sterling model for what they would like to see from other nominees. Rex Tillerson’s extensive career will bring a unique perspective to the state department, and I believe he will provide wise counsel and objective advice to the President on our nation’s foreign policy. I look forward to working with him in a bipartisan manner in the best interest of all West Virginians and Americans.

Manchin’s decision to support Tillerson essentially guarantees full U.S. Senate approval of the energy executive to serve as Secretary of State whenever the vote occurs. The vote in the full U.S. Senate may not happen until next week, as Republicans and Democrats head into their party retreats later this week, and Democratic leadership in the Senate has been using a variety of procedural measures to slow down confirmation of Trump’s nominees.

Tillerson was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday, after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) dropped his opposition and joined with all his fellow committee Republicans to support approval—all the committee Democrats opposed Tillerson—setting up a floor vote sometime soon.

With 51 U.S. Senate Republicans not counting Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)—Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, who has yet to be voted on in the Senate Judiciary Committee or the full U.S. Senate—it is likely that every single Trump nominee will be approved by the Senate. But Tillerson, who faced some criticism from people like Rubio and Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), was not a done deal until after Rubio dropped his opposition.

Now that Manchin is on board after this Breitbart News exclusive, it is likely other red state Democrats up for reelection in 2018 will follow his lead and support Tillerson—giving the oil executive a little room for error inside the GOP when he didn’t have such room before Rubio dropped his opposition.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) previously told Breitbart News exclusively that several Democrats were privately on board with Tillerson’s nomination, but he didn’t name them. Now, Manchin is public and several more are likely to come forward.

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