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Trump to nominate Jon Huntsman as ambassador to Russia

By Eric DuVall
Trump to nominate Jon Huntsman as ambassador to Russia
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman will be President Donald Trump's nominee as ambassador to Russia. Huntsman ran for president in 2012. File photo by Eric Gay/UPI | License Photo

March 8 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump will nominate former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman as the U.S. ambassador to Russia, one of the State Department's most sensitive diplomatic posts.

Huntsman has lengthy experience as a statesman. The Republican served as former President Barack Obama's ambassador to China during Obama's first term.

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Huntsman left that post to pursue a short-lived presidential campaign against his former boss in 2012.

He also served as the U.S. ambassador to Singapore under former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

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Politico first reported Trump's decision Wednesday, with CNN reporting Huntsman has agreed privately to accept the position. Both outlets cited anonymous aides close to Trump and Huntsman.

If confirmed by the Senate, Huntsman would become the top U.S. diplomat in Russia, a country that has come under intense scrutiny for what U.S. intelligence officials say was interference in the 2016 election. Intelligence agencies investigating the hacking of Democratic groups and Hillary Clinton's top campaign aide concluded that the intrusions were carried out on Kremlin orders.

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Trump initially denied Russia was the source of the election-related hacks, but later said he agreed with the intelligence community's assessment.

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The FBI is presently investigating whether Trump's campaign coordinated with the Russian government in its effort to undermine Clinton and the Democrats, which the president has denied.

Huntsman and Trump were not always allies. Though he initially endorsed Trump's campaign, Huntsman was one of several prominent Republicans to call on him to quit the race in August after a 2005 audio recording revealed then-candidate Trump joking about grabbing women's genitals.

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