Trump will nominate former China envoy Jon Huntsman as US ambassador to Russia
US President Donald Trump will nominate veteran diplomat and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman as ambassador to Russia, the White House said Tuesday.
The announcement came amid swirling controversy and multiple investigations into allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to win the 2016 election.
Huntsman, 57, previously served as US ambassador to China and Singapore.
If confirmed by the US Senate, Huntsman would venture to Moscow for a job that will be particularly high-profile as a special counsel in Washington investigates the ever-growing Russia scandal plaguing the White House.
As a candidate, Trump criticised Huntsman, a fluent Putonghua speaker, for letting China do “a major number on the US” during his time in Beijing under former president Barack Obama.
Huntsman spent less than two years in that post before launching a failed bid to secure the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
A two-time governor of the state of Utah, Huntsman currently serves as chairman of the Atlantic Council, a foreign policy think tank, and is a director on a number of corporate boards, including Caterpillar, Chevron, Ford Motor Company and Hilton.
The father-of-seven initially endorsed Trump for president last year, but later called on him to drop out following the release of a 2005 recording in which the former reality television star used vulgar language to brag about groping women.
A moderate Republican, he was George Bush Snr’s ambassador to Singapore from 1992-93 – becoming the youngest American to hold the post of ambassador in more than 100 years.
He served as a deputy trade representative under George W. Bush’s administration from 2001-2003 where he helped negotiate several pacts with China.
He then resigned to run for governor of Utah, a heavily Mormon state with which he shares religious ties, winning with 78 per cent of the vote when he stood a second time.
Obama reached across party lines to name Huntsman his ambassador to China in 2009, a position he held until 2011, when he left to launch a presidential run.