Jon Huntsman Jr. has resigned as the United States ambassador to Russia and plans to move back to Utah so he could reconnect with his family.
The resignation will take effect on Oct. 3, Huntsman Jr., who was a 1987 College graduate, stated in his letter to President Donald Trump. He is the son of Jon Huntsman Sr., who died of cancer in 2018 and whose name adorns Wharton’s Huntsman Hall and the dual-degree Huntsman Program.
Huntsman Jr. also wrote in the letter that he was honored by the trust Trump has placed in him as the U.S. ambassador to Russia “during this historically difficult period in bilateral relations.” The White House has confirmed it received Huntsman Jr.’s resignation letter, Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The resignation comes less than a year after Huntsman Jr. was diagnosed with stage I skin cancer and received surgery to remove cancerous moles.
Trump named Huntsman Jr. ambassador to Russia in 2017 while the U.S. investigated Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Since then conflicts between the U.S. and Russia have continued, including recent sanctions imposed on Russia following the 2018 poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal.
“Going forward, we must continue to hold Russia accountable when its behavior threatens us and our allies,” Huntsman Jr. wrote in his resignation letter.
Trump knew about Huntsman Jr.'s resignation before the letter, and spoke with Russian president Vladimir Putin last week about the need to appoint a new ambassador in the months after Huntsman Jr.'s departure, according to CNN. The appointment process requires Senate confirmation, and is usually time-consuming and slow, CNN reported.
Huntsman Jr., who was the former governor of Utah, is also reportedly considering another run in the Utah gubernatorial elections. He was elected governor of Utah in 2004 and 2008 before former President Barack Obama appointed Huntsman Jr. ambassador to China in May 2009. When he was the ambassador to China, Huntsman Jr. spoke at Penn's commencement ceremony in 2010.
Lieutenant Governor of Utah Spencer Cox, who announced his bid for the 2020 Utah gubernatorial election, said in a statement he is “excited” to have Huntsman Jr. back.
“If he decides to run for governor again, it would make me a better candidate,” Cox said.
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