The appointment comes at a time when the President’s relationship with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, is under public scrutiny following assessments from several intelligence agencies that Russia intentionally tried to intervene in the Presidential election to ensure a Trump victory.
The announcement came as reports emerged that Trump had a previously undisclosed meeting at the G20 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House characterized the interaction as a “brief conversation” after a dinner, and said any insinuation they tried to cover up the meeting was “false and malicious.”
Huntsman, who is currently Chairman of the foreign policy think tank the Atlantic Council, served as Barack Obama’s Ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011, immediately after finishing his term as Governor of Utah. He also served as Ambassador to Singapore in the early nineties, and ran unsuccessfully in the 2012 Presidential race.
Huntsman was not part of Trump’s inner circle during the campaign. Although he endorsed him in May, he said he should drop out of the race following the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood tape, where Trump bragged about groping women. Huntsman told the Salt Lake Tribune, “the time has come for Governor Pence to lead the ticket.”