Jon Hunstman resigns as U.S. Ambassador to Russia

As the diplomatic relationship between the United States and Russia remain icy, Jon Huntsman has resigned from his role as the top U.S.diplomat in the country, CBS News has confirmed. 

The Salt Lake Tribune first reported news of Huntsman departure. According to the paper, Huntsman may also be mulling a run for Governor of Utah, a post he held from 2005 to 2009, when President Obama made him Ambassador to China. 

Huntsman reportedly sent his resignation letter to the president Tuesday morning and plans to move back to his home state sometime in October. The State Department confirmed details of the Tribune’s reporting with regard to Huntsman’s resignation. 

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A Republican, Huntsman was Ambassador to Singapore under President George H.W. Bush. He was also a Republican presidential candidate in 2012, eventually losing the nomination to his Mitt Romney, who is now a U.S. Senator from Utah. 

Romney and Huntsman, both scions of exceptionally wealthy Mormon families with an eye toward politics, have a long and complicated relationship. Their rivalry deepened when Romney was chosen over Huntsman to lead the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. In 2008, Huntsman endorsed John McCain over Romney in that year’s Republican presidential primary. 

Huntsman latest stint as a diplomat came at a rocky time for U.S.-Russia relations. Washington has repeatedly accused Moscow of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to benefit President Trump. While disputing some of the findings of his own intelligence community, Mr. Trump had reluctantly imposed sanctions on Russia while at the same time maintaining a chummy relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  

Russia and the U.S. have also been on opposite sides of the Syrian civil war, with Moscow intervening militarily to prop up its ally Bashar al-Assad. Russia has also maintained close ties with major U.S. rivals, such as Iran and China. 

Huntsman, for the most part, is largely seen as a relatively moderate conservative. 

Christina Ruffini contributed reporting. 

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