Trump Cabinet Confirmations: Rex Tillerson confirmed as secretary of state

Trump Cabinet Confirmations: Rex Tillerson confirmed as secretary of state

Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO Rex Tillerson will be the next secretary of state, after the Senate voted Wednesday to confirm his nomination.

Tillerson was confirmed by a vote of 56-43 votes, with four Democrats joining Republicans in supporting his nomination. 

The Democrats who voted in favor of Tillerson were Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mark Warner of Virginia and Angus King, an Independent from Maine who caucuses with Democrats, according to NBC News' Frank Thorpe V.

Initially, Tillerson's nomination looked to be in danger after GOP senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio expressed concerns over Tillerson's ties to Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

If all three had voted "no" on Tillerson, his nomination likely would have been scuttled.

However in the run up to Tillerson's confirmation vote, McCain, Graham and Rubio all announced they would support Tillerson, despite their concerns, paving the way for his confirmation.

Tillerson will now assume the role as the country's top diplomat amid a turbulent time in U.S. foreign affairs.

He'll have to work with a skeptical Trump on dealing with Russia's interference in the U.S. election. Tillerson will also have to deal with the diplomatic fallout from seven majority-Muslim countries whose residents are temporarily banned from entering the United States.

And he'll have to calm the fears of world leaders, some of whom don't trust Trump to honor past commitments the U.S. has made, including supporting the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Iran nuclear deal, the New York Times reported.

"If he's telling lies on relatively unimportant things, like the size of the crowd at his inauguration or whether or not it rained on his parade, that's not of great importance in the overall scheme of things," Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador to the U.S., told the New York Times.

"But as I used to say to my staff," Westmacott added, "If I can't rely on you to get the small things right, how can I count on you to do so on things that really matter?"