ARIZONA NEWS

When ‘pigs fly,’ Sen. John McCain will support Rex Tillerson

Jan 5, 2017, 8:56 AM | Updated: 9:09 am

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warr...

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, for the committee's hearing: "Foreign Cyber Threats to the United States." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Farm animals will have to take flight before U.S. Sen. John McCain will support the nominee for secretary of state.

McCain (R-Ariz.) said Wednesday that President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for the nation’s top diplomat, Rex Tillerson, could “realistically” earn his support but “There’s also a realistic scenario that pigs fly.”

McCain, a top Republican, has been vocal critic of Tillerson because of his business ties to Russia. The two met on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

Reporters had asked the 80-year-old if there was chance he would back Tillerson’s nomination. Senate confirmations require a simple majority — 50 percent and plus one. Republicans have a slim majority, 52-48.

The confirmation hearing was scheduled for next week.

A staffer for the senator later said he had been joking.

Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson pauses during a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson pauses during a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has not been joking about Russia’s alleged involvement behind a hack of Democratic emails during the election.

He and the committee launched a hearing Thursday on foreign cyber attacks.

The Navy veteran isn’t alone in his concern over Tillerson’s relationships in Russia.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida have been unsettled by those ties, as well.

A week ago, President Barack Obama banished 35 Russian diplomats from the United States after intelligence reports concluded that Russia was responsible for the hacking.

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When ‘pigs fly,’ Sen. John McCain will support Rex Tillerson