Trump taps Jon Hunts­man as US am­bas­sador to Rus­sia

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has tapped vet­eran diplo­mat and former Utah gover­nor Jon Hunts­man as am­bas­sador to Rus­sia, the White House said Tues­day. The an­nounce­ment came amid swirling con­tro­versy and mul­ti­ple in­ves­ti­ga­tions into al­le­ga­tions that the Trump cam­paign col­luded with Moscow to win the 2016 elec­tion. Hunts­man, 57, pre­vi­ously served as US am­bas­sador to China and Sin­ga­pore. If con­firmed by the US Se­nate, Hunts­man would ven­ture to Moscow for a job that will be par­tic­u­larly high-pro­file as a spe­cial coun­sel in Wash­ing­ton probes the ever-grow­ing Rus­sia scan­dal plagu­ing the White House.

As a can­di­date, Trump crit­i­cized Hunts­man, a flu­ent Man­darin speaker, for let­ting China do “a ma­jor num­ber on the US” dur­ing his time in Bei­jing un­der former pres­i­dent Barack Obama. Hunts­man spent less than two years in that post be­fore launch­ing a failed bid to se­cure the 2012 Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion. A two-time gover­nor of the state of Utah, Hunts­man cur­rently serves as chair­man of the At­lantic Coun­cil, a for­eign pol­icy think tank, as is a di­rec­tor on a num­ber of cor­po­rate boards, in­clud­ing Caterpillar, Chevron, Ford Mo­tor Com­pany and Hil­ton.

The fa­ther-of-seven ini­tially en­dorsed Trump for pres­i­dent last year, but later called on him to drop out fol­low­ing the re­lease of a 2005 record­ing in which the former re­al­ity TV star used vul­gar lan­guage to brag about grop­ing women. A mod­er­ate Re­pub­li­can, he was Ge­orge Bush Sr’s am­bas­sador to Sin­ga­pore from 1992-93 — be­com­ing the youngest Amer­i­can to hold the post of am­bas­sador in more than 100 years. He served as a deputy trade rep­re­sen­ta­tive un­der Ge­orge W. Bush’s ad­min­is­tra­tion from 2001-2003 where he helped ne­go­ti­ate sev­eral pacts with China.

He then re­signed to run for gover­nor of Utah, a heav­ily Mor­mon state with which he shares re­li­gious ties, win­ning with 78 per­cent of the vote when he stood a sec­ond time. Former pres­i­dent Barack Obama reached across party lines to name Hunts­man his am­bas­sador to China in 2009, a po­si­tion he held un­til 2011, when he left to launch a pres­i­den­tial run against his former boss. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has been be­sieged by al­le­ga­tions that the pres­i­dent’s clos­est ad­vi­sors col­luded with Rus­sia to win the 2016 elec­tion.

Trump’s el­dest son Don­ald Jr re­cently re­leased emails show­ing he held a meet­ing dur­ing the cam­paign with Krem­lin-con­nected fig­ures, hop­ing to get dirt on his dad’s elec­tion ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton. The con­tro­versy grew Tues­day af­ter the White House re­vealed the US leader had an ad­di­tional, pre­vi­ously undis­closed chat with Rus­sian coun­ter­part Vladimir Putin at this month’s G20 sum­mit in Ham­burg, rais­ing ques­tions about what the pair talked about, who was present and why the meet­ing was not pre­vi­ously men­tioned. Mean­while the State De­part­ment said Tues­day it had held “tough, forth­right” talks with Rus­sian of­fi­cials over ac­cess to di­plo­matic com­pounds in the United States that were sus­pended by Obama.—AFP

SOUTH CAROLINA: In this file photo, former then-Utah Gov. Jon Hunts­man speaks in Myr­tle Beach, South Carolina, as he ends his cam­paign for pres­i­dent. —AP

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