President Donald Trump has asked former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Russia, a position likely to come with heavy scrutiny as questions swirl around Trump’s alleged connections to Moscow.
Media reports say Huntsman has indicated his willingness to accept the position, though he has made no formal statement on the matter.
Huntsman boasts a long diplomatic career, having served twice as an ambassador under both Democratic and Republican presidents. He served as the ambassador to China during Barack Obama’s administration and as ambassador to Singapore during the presidency of George H.W. Bush.
Huntsman was first elected governor of Utah in 2004 and re-elected in 2008, soundly beating Democrat nominee Bob Springmeyer with more than 77 percent of the vote. He resigned a little more than a year into his second term to become ambassador to China.
When he left office, Huntsman enjoyed an 80 percent approval rating. During his tenure as governor, the Pew Center on States named Utah the best managed state in the country.
He served as ambassador for two years, but resigned in April 2011 to focus on a presidential campaign in 2012. The campaign proved unsuccessful and Huntsman dropped out in early 2012 to endorse the eventual Republican candidate, Mitt Romney.
Politically, Huntsman describes himself as a center-right conservative, though he has shown the ability work with very diverse groups of people throughout his diplomatic career, including the authoritarian government in China, which could give him some experience in dealing with Russia’s government.
He is fluent in Mandarin and he and his wife, Mary Kaye, adopted a daughter from China.