President Trump is nominating former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman to serve as U.S. ambassador to Russia, two sources familiar with the situation have confirmed to CBS News’ Major Garrett.
The nomination, like many in the Trump world, has been on the table for weeks and it took some time to complete the paperwork. Before the president nominated Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, Huntsman was among the contenders considered for the job.
This comes as the White House moves ahead with nominations to positions other than Cabinet secretaries. Many people up for ambassadorial posts, as CBS News’ Margaret Brennan has reported, are still waiting for either formal nominations or public acknowledgement by the White House that they will serve as ambassadors.
Huntsman, 56, previously served as U.S. ambassador to China under President Obama and as U.S. ambassador to Singapore under Presidents George H.W. Bush and President Clinton. He also served as governor of Utah from 2005 until 2009 and he ran for president as a Republican in 2012.
If confirmed by the Senate, Huntsman would assume the diplomatic post at a critical time as the federal government engages in a broad investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Mr. Trump has expressed that he wants to improve relations with Russia, following a weakening relationship under Obama.