Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election has been “well documented,” but it’s still in the interests of the U.S. to attempt to improve relations with Moscow, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said. “I don’t think there’s any question that the Russians were playing around in our electoral processes,” Tillerson said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd” on Sunday. He added that the impact of that meddling was “inconclusive.” Even so, “it’s in the interest of the American people, it’s in the interest of Russia, the rest of the world, that we do something to see if we cannot improve the relationship between the two greatest nuclear powers in the world,” Tillerson said.
The top U.S. diplomat spoke before Donald Trump leaves on May 19 for his first overseas trip as president, and days after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election campaign.
Tillerson said the sudden dismissal of Comey, less than four years into a 10-year term, didn’t create concerns about how much independence he would have as America’s top diplomat.
“I have a great relationship with the president. I understand what his objectives are. When I’m not clear on what his objectives are, we talk about it,” Tillerson said, adding that he would “never compromise my own values.”