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 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.
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.
— CNBC’s Brian Schwartz contributed to this report
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