WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison vouched for her new boss, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in an interview Thursday night.

“There is a lot going on that is good, that is positive,” Hutchison told Washington Post columnist David Ignatuis in an interview in the nation's capital.

Hutchison is the lead diplomat to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an alliance between the United States and European countries dating back to the post-World War II era. She is now based in Brussels. 

Hutchison’s remarks come a week after reports surfaced of Tillerson calling U.S. President Donald Trump “a moron” in July. The Department of State is at the center of escalating nuclear tensions in both North Korea and Iran.

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Hutchison and Tillerson have ties dating to her days as a senator from Texas, when he was the CEO of ExxonMobile. They are both graduates of The University of Texas at Austin. 

“I’ve known him for a long time, he’s a Texan, was a great CEO of Exxon and as he has said, he’s not a Washington person and I think everybody is getting used to his styles and things,” Hutchison said.

She also briefly touched on recent rumors of tension between Tillerson and President Donald Trump, saying, “He and the president are working very well on the foreign policy issues, which I’m a part, and I am so pleased to be at NATO.”

Hutchison said there was a lull after the Cold War when many thought the world would be peaceful and easy, but that is not the case anymore.

“NATO has been a glue that has endured through hard times," she said, adding that now that tensions with Russia are again mounting, she feels "blessed" that "every top person in [the] administration, especially the president, understands the importance of NATO.”

Hutchison said the body is facing "a different set of risks," such as cyber interference from Russia, that it is looking into in order to understand and defend against.

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“They are trying to break down the bonds of the NATO alliance by putting out false news,” Hutchison said. “They are playing the long game.” 

Disclosure: ExxonMobil has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors is available here.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • The U.S. Senate confirmed former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison as the new ambassador to NATO. [Full story]

  • Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas told a panel of Senate lawmakers that she will take a hard line on Russia if she is confirmed as ambassador to NATO. She appears to be on track for confirmation. [Full story]

  • Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, under consideration for the NATO ambassadorship, played a key role in shepherding U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson through his Senate confirmation. [Full story]

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