President Donald Trump
will nominate veteran diplomat and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman to serve as US
ambassador to Russia, according to the White House.
“Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. of Utah to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States
of America to the Russian Federation,” the White House said in a press release on Tuesday.
“Huntsman has had a distinguished career as a politician, diplomat, and businessman,” it added.
“His robust record of public service includes service as US 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 March, the White House confirmed it would tap the former Republican presidential contender to the Russia post, but it had delayed his formal nomination and sending it to the Senate for confirmation as Washington waited for the Kremlin to approve his selection.
The announcement comes amid controversy over allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow prior to the 2016 election.
Huntsman initially endorsed Trump for president last year, but later called on him to drop out after a 2005 recording was released in which the former reality TV star used vulgar language to brag about groping women.
As a presidential candidate, Trump criticized Huntsman, who is a fluent Mandarin speaker, for allowing China to do “a major number on the US” during his tenure in Beijing under former US President Barack Obama.
Jon Huntsman, accompanied by then-President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, shakes hands with former Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing, in November 2009. (Photo via EPA)
Huntsman served as the US diplomat in China for less than two years before he launched a failed bid to secure the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
He currently serves as chairman of both the Atlantic Council, a foreign policy
think tank, and the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.
In the private sector, he is a director on a number of corporate boards including Hilton, Chevron, Ford Motor Company, and Caterpillar.