U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman on Tuesday turned in his resignation letter to President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer White Supremacist calls on Trump to stop using fear to motivate people Walmart employee urges workers to strike until the company’s stores stop selling guns Biden: Violent video games ‘not healthy’ but aren’t ‘in and of itself why we have this carnage’ MORE.
“American citizenship is a privilege and I believe the most basic responsibility in return is service to country,” Huntsman wrote. “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 is my hope that this will allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed,” he added. “I pledge my full effort in facilitating a smooth transition that ensures our foreign policy goals are kept in proper focus.”
His resignation will take effect Oct. 3.
Huntsman, a former Utah governor, is planning to move back to the state in the fall and is reportedly weighing another gubernatorial run. He was expected to leave his role amid speculation that he would launch a bid to run for state office.
The 59-year-old ambassador was elected as Utah’s governor in 2004 and again in 2008. He left his post in 2009 to become the U.S. ambassador to China at former President Obama’s request.
He resigned in 2011 to pursue an ultimately unsuccessful GOP presidential run.
In his resignation letter, Huntsman added that he had told Trump and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoChina: ‘Criminals’ pushing Hong Kong to ‘dangerous abyss’ Trump expands Venezuela sanctions into embargo Senators press Poland to repay victims for property stolen by Nazis MORE that he and his family wanted to go home “to reconnect with our growing family and responsibilities.”
Trump picked Huntsman to handle relations with Russia in his first year in the White House. Huntsman reportedly told the Trump administration at the time that he would serve in the role for two years.
Huntsman faced calls to step down after a Helsinki summit with Trump and Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinThe Hill’s Morning Report – Trump, Democrats at odds over shootings’ causes, cures Putin calls for talks after Trump pulls out of nuclear arms agreement The Democrats’ impeachment conundrum MORE in 2018, when Trump appeared to side with Putin regarding his denial of Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election.
“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump told reporters at the time.
Huntsman said at the time he would continue to serve in the “fragile” era of U.S.-Russia relations.
Huntsman also served as U.S. ambassador to Singapore in the early 1990s, as well as a deputy U.S. trade representative under former President George W. Bush.
— This report was updated at 12:29 p.m.