WASHINGTON — Ending a months-long guessing game in D.C. about when President Trump would send his rumored pick to Moscow as congressional committees and a special prosecutor investigate potential ties between Russia and his presidential campaign, the White House confirmed this evening that the job will go to former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.
The administration’s press release misspelled the 2012 Republican presidential candidate’s first name, calling him John Huntsman in the White House announcement.
Huntsman served as U.S. ambassador to China under President Obama and as ambassador to Singapore under presidents George H.W. Bush and Clinton. Between those periods of diplomatic service, he ran Utah.
Huntsman co-chairs No Labels, a group that advocates against “poisonous rhetoric and hyper-partisanship” and for bipartisan solutions, with former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).
He called for Trump to withdraw from the presidential race last October after the infamous Access Hollywood tape surfaced with Trump talking about groping women.
“In a campaign cycle that has been nothing but a race to the bottom — at such a critical moment for our nation — and with so many who have tried to be respectful of a record primary vote, the time has come for Governor Pence to lead the ticket,” Huntsman told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Huntsman said he had supported Trump because of tax reform and campaign-finance reform, but stressed that he and the now-president had “fundamental philosophical differences.”
The former governor was not involved in Trump’s campaign.
The White House originally indicated in March that Trump wanted the ambassador job to go to Huntsman, but didn’t formally announce the president’s intent to nominate him until today.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Huntsman, who had been weighing a run for Hatch’s seat in 2018, “possesses the savvy, grace, and tact characteristic of our nation’s top diplomats, and I am confident he will continue serving our country well as the next ambassador to Russia.”