US ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman will resign, could run for governor in Utah: Report

US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr.

Mikhail Tereshchenko | TASS | Getty Images

The American ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, will resign and return to his home state of Utah, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday.

The former Utah governor sent a letter to the White House on Tuesday morning saying he would step down, according to the newspaper. His resignation is effective Oct. 3.

The White House and State Department did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request to comment.

Huntsman — a 59-year-old Republican who was Utah’s governor from 2005 to 2009 — could run for the office again in 2020, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. He left office in 2009 to become President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China. He then mounted an unsuccessful bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.

Huntsman’s decision to leave the post comes as Trump has faced relentless criticism for U.S. relations with Russia during his administration. Trump has repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he believes the strongman’s denials that Moscow did not interfere in Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory.

Trump has insisted that he wants to have a good relationship with Russia, which can be a formidable geopolitical foe for the U.S.

In Huntsman’s resignation letter shared by the Salt Lake Tribune, he wrote that “we must continue to hold Russia accountable when its behavior threatens us and our allies.” He added that “through our diplomacy, we have worked to stabilize years of acrimony and incertitude with the hope of a better relationship.”

If he decides to run for governor, Huntsman would face Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox in the Republican primary.

Read the full Salt Lake Tribune report here.

— CNBC’s Brian Schwartz contributed to this report

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