US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman resigns

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman on Tuesday turned in his resignation letter to President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report MORE.

“American citizenship is a privilege and I believe the most basic responsibility in return is service to country,” Huntsman wrote. “To that end, I am honored by the trust you have placed in me as the United States ambassador to Russia during this historically difficult period in bilateral relations."

“It is my hope that this will allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed,” he added. “I pledge my full effort in facilitating a smooth transition that ensures our foreign policy goals are kept in proper focus.”

ADVERTISEMENT

His resignation will take effect Oct. 3.

Huntsman, a former Utah governor, is planning to move back to the state in the fall and is reportedly weighing another gubernatorial run. He was expected to leave his role amid speculation that he would launch a bid to run for state office.

The 59-year-old ambassador was elected as Utah’s governor in 2004 and again in 2008. He left his post in 2009 to become the U.S. ambassador to China at former President Obama’s request.

He resigned in 2011 to pursue an ultimately unsuccessful GOP presidential run.

In his resignation letter, Huntsman added that he had told Trump and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump says 40,000 Americans have been repatriated who were stranded abroad US should adopt a Marshall Plan for Ethiopia Tired of worrying about the pandemic? There's always Pyongyang MORE that he and his family wanted to go home “to reconnect with our growing family and responsibilities.” 

Trump picked Huntsman to handle relations with Russia in his first year in the White House. Huntsman reportedly told the Trump administration at the time that he would serve in the role for two years.

Huntsman faced calls to step down after a Helsinki summit with Trump and Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinOvernight Energy: Oil giants meet with Trump at White House | Interior extends tenure of controversial land management chief | Oil prices tick up on hopes of Russia-Saudi deal Oil prices tick up on hopes of Russia-Saudi deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Guidance on masks is coming MORE in 2018, when Trump appeared to side with Putin regarding his denial of Moscow's interference in the 2016 election.

"I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today," Trump told reporters at the time.

Huntsman said at the time he would continue to serve in the "fragile" era of U.S.-Russia relations.

Huntsman also served as U.S. ambassador to Singapore in the early 1990s, as well as a deputy U.S. trade representative under former President George W. Bush.

— This report was updated at 12:29 p.m.