Retired. Lt. Col. Ralph Peters said Monday on Fox News that it would be a "terrible idea" for President-elect Donald Trump to nominate Rex Tillerson as secretary of State, lambasting the Exxon Mobil CEO for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Host Martha MacCallum asked Peters what he thought of Tillerson being Trump's likely pick for secretary of state.
Peters responded that he personally knows nobody who "thinks it's a wise nomination." He praised Trump for nominating retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis for secretary of Defense and retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security, among other transition decisions. However, he believes that it is a "terrible idea" for Tillerson to be secretary of State due to his friendly business ties with Putin as Exxon Mobil's chief executive.
"Do you really think that Rex Tillerson doesn't understand that [Putin] is a man who wants to spread Russian power back to the glory days?" MacCallum asked.
"Well, if he understands it he sympathizes with Putin," Peters said. "Putin, as John McCain said, is a thug and a murderer … Putin has an emotional core of visceral hate for the United States, blames us for the collapse of the Soviet Union, blames us unjustly for all of Russia's woes."
MacCallum then presented a hypothetical situation to Peters in which Trump possibly chooses Tillerson to lead the State Department because of his close ties to Putin and desire to keep his friends close and enemies closer.
"Look, I know the Russians. It won't work. We are suckers for the Russians," Peters said. "I'm afraid the president- elect is being a sucker and I do not trust anybody who has done mega billion dollar deals with Putin's government."
"You're saying he's an agent for Vladimir Putin? Is that what you're saying?" MacCallum asked.
"No. I think it's what the Russians call a useful idiot, someone who puts the profit motive above the welfare of the United States," Peters said. "You can't do business with Putin's Russia without getting dirty. It can't be done. I want to see somebody who puts America's interest in front of those of Exxon Mobil."
Peters said later in the interview that he believes Tillerson's potential Senate confirmation hearing could be Sen. John McCain's (R., Ariz.) "finest hour as a politician."
"This could be John McCain's finest hour as a politician, the one voice, the venerable voice standing up and saying, ‘No, Putin is not our friend,' because, Martha, Putin is not our friend. He just hates us and Washington doesn't like terms like hate or passion, but Putin hates us with a passion," Peters said.