Sept. 28 (UPI) — The Senate on Thursday confirmed former governor of Utah and businessman Jon Huntsman as the U.S. ambassador to Russia.
President Donald Trump nominated Huntsman for the post in July. Huntsman briefly ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 after serving as President Barack Obama’s U.S. ambassador to China. He also served as the U.S. ambassador to Singapore under President George H.W. Bush.
The Senate confirmed Huntsman’s nomination unanimously. Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration, said on Twitter Thursday evening that Huntsman is a “Terrific choice.”
But the veteran diplomat is taking on the appointment at a time when U.S.-Russia relations are particularly strained. Multiple federal probes are underway to investigate the possibility that Russia-backed bad actors meddled in the 2016 presidential election. The U.S. intelligence community has already linked the Kremlin to hacked computers belonging to the Democratic National Committee.
The House and Senate intelligence committees are also looking into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with those efforts.
Huntsman acknowledged the tense environment to the Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday.
“Our relationship with Russia is among the most consequential and complex foreign-policy challenges we face,” Huntsman said.