President Trump to nominate Jon Huntsman Jr. as Ambassador to Russia Tuesday evening

Posted at 5:02 PM, Jul 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-18 23:56:09-04

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Trump will nominate former Utah Governor Jon Hunstman Jr. as Ambassador to Russia Tuesday evening, according to reports.

The White House announced Tuesday evening that President Donald Trump has chosen former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman to be the US ambassador to Russia.

In the release announcing Trump's intention to nominate Huntsman, the White House misspelled the former governor's first name as "John" instead of "Jon."  A later release was corrected.

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. of Utah to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Russian Federation.  Governor Jon Huntsman has had a distinguished career as a politician, diplomat, and businessman.  He currently serves as Chairman of both the Atlantic Council, a premier foreign policy think tank, and the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.  His robust record of public service includes service as U.S. Ambassador to China and to Singapore, Deputy United States Trade Representative, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Development.  He was also twice elected Governor of Utah.  In the private sector he is a director on numerous corporate boards including Hilton, Chevron, Ford Motor Company, and Caterpillar.  He and his wife Mary Kaye are the parents of seven children. 

Jason Perry with Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics thinks it's one of the most important political appointments President Trump will make.

"This is a big nomination, it's an important nomination and Jon Huntsman Jr. is the perfect pick," Perry said.  "In fact he may be the only person in the country that has the right qualifications, skills and experience to really do a good job in this post."

Jon Huntsman Sr. talked about the appointment earlier this month in an interview with Fox 13's Bob Evans.

"My guess is the president and Jon Jr. will get along extremely well and that there will be a very strong bond between the two of them and how they operate together," Huntsman Sr. said.

Huntsman had long been expected to be the official choice for the key diplomatic post, with sources telling CNN in March that he had accepted an offer for the job.

Huntsman served as the US ambassador to China during the Obama administration, and launched an unsuccessful presidential bid in 2012. Trump had also reportedly considered Huntsman for secretary of state.

Huntsman would take the position as scrutiny has compounded on the US-Russia relationship.  As he heads toward Senate confirmation after his nomination is submitted, he is almost certain to face questions about Russia's role in the international order and its attempts to influence the elections of other countries, including the US.

Tension between the two countries has grown in recent years, from the US rebuke of Russia's human rights situation to its opposition to Russian military involvement in Ukraine and Syria.

Trump struck a conciliatory tone toward Russia during the campaign, and the US intelligence community accused Russia of trying to influence the election to help Trump's candidacy. Congressional committees and a Department of Justice special counsel are investigating alleged Russian interference and any potential coordination between Trump associates and Russia.