Trump’s Utah pick for ambassador: ‘No question Russia interfered’

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman testifies during his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing to be ambassador to Russia on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Sept. 19 (UPI) — Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, President Donald Trump‘s pick to be the U.S. ambassador to Russia, told Congress on Tuesday there’s “no question Russia interfered” with the 2016 presidential election.

Huntsman answered questions from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as part of his nomination process. He said Russia’s attempts to interfere in the U.S. election threatened the two countries’ relationship.

Citing his time as Utah governor, he said, “you have nothing more important than the integrity of your election process,” Huntsman said. “To work to undercut, to subvert or sow seeds of doubt of distrust of that system is the highest level of injury that can be laid on any election system.”

Huntsman said “Russia continues to threaten stability in Europe” by violating the sovereignty of neighboring countries, including Ukraine, where he said he hoped to help bring about a peaceful solution to the Crimea conflict. Additionally, he said he seeks to bring an end to human-rights abuses in Russia.

He said he was aware the job, should he be confirmed, wouldn’t be easy.

“While I am confident my previous experiences prepare me for this sensitive diplomatic mission, I am under no illusion that serving as the U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation will be easy or simple,” he said. “Our relationship with Russia is among the most consequential and complex foreign-policy challenges we face.”

Huntsman was a businessman before he became ambassador to China under former President Barack Obama, and U.S. diplomat to Singapore during the administration of George W. Bush. He had a short candidacy for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Although he and President Donald Trump have since resolved differences, Huntsman was slow to endorse Trump as the 2016 Republican presidential candidate, and withdrew his support during the campaign.

Huntsman currently chairs the Atlantic Council, a think tank, and sits on boards of several corporations.

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