Trump announces Jon Huntsman Jr. for Russia ambassador

Posted at 8:09 AM, Jul 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 10:09:03-04

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

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.

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.”

In addition to his government roles, the White House highlighted his position as chair of the Atlantic Council and leadership on corporate boards including Chevron, Ford and Caterpillar.

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.