Senate approves Huntsman as Russia ambassador
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President Trump's choice to be the next ambassador to Russia easily cleared the Senate on Thursday.

The chamber approved Jon Huntsman's nomination by a voice vote as part of a slate of Trump picks, before wrapping up their work for the week.

The fast floor action comes after Huntsman cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.


"This particular ambassadorship requires a great deal of poise, intellect and experience, and I have no doubt that Jon is just the man for the job," Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOvernight Finance: NAFTA defenders dig in | Tech pushes Treasury to fight EU on taxes | AT&T faces setback in merger trial | Dems make new case against Trump tax law | Trump fuels fight over gas tax What sort of senator will Mitt Romney be? Not a backbencher, even day one Lawmaker interest in NAFTA intensifies amid Trump moves MORE (R-Utah) said after the Senate's action.

Huntsman, a former presidential candidate, also won praise from Democrats, including Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinWashington puts Ethiopia's human rights abusers on notice Overnight Defense: Mattis vows Dreamers in military won't be deported | Pentagon unsure if military parade will be in Washington | Dem bill would block funds for parade Dems introduce bills to block funds for Trump's proposed parade MORE (Md.), the top Democrat on the panel.

"I don't think the president could have selected a stronger person to be ambassador to Russia," Cardin told reporters during a roundtable on Wednesday. "In every case, I think he is the right person to be ambassador."

Huntsman's nomination comes amid a rocky point in the U.S.-Russia relationship.

Moscow expelled more than 700 diplomats earlier this year after Congress easily passed legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia and block Trump's ability to unilaterally lift existing sanctions.

Multiple congressional committees, as well as special counsel Robert Mueller, are investigating Russia's interference in the U.S. presidential election and potential contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Huntsman said during his confirmation hearing that there was "no question" that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election.

“There is no question that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election last year,” Huntsman said, adding, “Moscow continues to meddle in the democratic processes of our friends and allies.”

Trump has, at times, voiced doubt about the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia sought to influence the outcome of the election using cyberattacks and disinformation, suggesting that other actors could have been responsible.