The trend of the Trump administration shedding high-profile officials is continuing this week with the abrupt announcement from Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman that he was resigning. Although on numerous other occasions like the contentious departures of some Cabinet secretaries, high-profile departures have unfolded under a cloud of disagreement with President Donald Trump, that doesn’t seem to be present in this case. Instead, Huntsman is reportedly considering running for governor of Utah in the 2020 elections, a position he’s held for two terms before at which time he maintained high popularity, once winning with a stunning 77 percent of the vote. To the apparent end of a return to state politics, Huntsman will reportedly be returning to his home state in October.
Huntsman shared in his resignation letter addressed to Trump:
‘American citizenship is a privilege and I believe the most basic responsibility in return is service to country. To that end, I am honored by the trust you have placed in me as the United States ambassador to Russia during this historically difficult period in bilateral relations.’
It’s not immediately clear who Trump might name as a replacement — if he even names someone at all. The Trump administration has also established a certain trend at this point of high-profile positions including plenty in the diplomatic field simply remaining unfilled, with the responsibilities delegated to the next available person. The United States currently doesn’t even have Senate-confirmed Ambassadors to Canada, Japan, Ukraine, and a number of other places.
While in his position, Huntsman has mostly fallen in line with the president over those “historically difficult” relations that he mentioned between the U.S. and Russia. Speaking to Fox News ahead of a planned one-on-one summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin that turned into a spectacle of Trump struggling to admit the facts of Russian interference in U.S. elections, Huntsman shared:
‘For the president, the challenges are certainly there, but I think he is genuinely looking forward to sitting across the table and trying to reduce the tension in a relationship where our collective blood pressure is off-the-charts high.’
Well, that’s great that you thought so, Jon — but still, Trump ended up having to be goaded into an after the fact admission of the facts of Russia’s national security-threatening election interference in the U.S., and Trump has since dumped those facts yet again. At a recent G20 summit of world leaders in Japan, while sitting across from Putin himself Trump literally laughed off a question of whether he would confront the Russian leader over the interference. At that same time, unsettlingly enough, Trump “joked” with Putin that the leaders should “get rid” of journalists who were bothering them with “fake news.”
Leaders like now former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray have just recently warned about the ongoing threat from Russian election interference, but Trump hasn’t exactly mobilized some kind of task force to respond to the issue. Huntsman is skipping town as this issue continues to rage ahead of 2020.
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