The former governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman, has reportedly been offered the position of US ambassador to Russia. This is a crucial role after US intelligence concluded that the highest levels of the Kremlin ordered interference in the recent election, and at a time when contact between Russia and people on Donald Trump's election team are being closely scrutinised.

Huntsman was a critic of Trump during the campaign, calling on him to withdraw after the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump was heard bragging about being able to sexually assault women. Trump has also been critical of Huntsman on Twitter, his favourite means of communication.

The role would not be the first diplomatic position for Huntsman, who was ambassador to Singapore in 1992 -93 and to China from 2009-11. It was during that tenure that Trump criticised, saying on Twitter that Huntsman was a "lightweight" and adding: "Our diplomats are weak: @JonHuntsman's China policy proves why we need businessmen to negotiate against China."

However, two separate sources have told Politico that Huntsman was offered the post earlier this week and that he is currently organising his paperwork and plans to accept the position.

A Utah newspaper, Deseret News, reported that Huntsman was also thought to have been in the running for the top two State Department job: secretary of state and deputy secretary of state.

Though Huntsman withdrew support after the Access Hollywood tape he had previously been a supporter of Trump on the Republican ticket, and the two are thought to have maintained a cordial relationship since the election.

A number of state department and diplomatic envoy positions are still unfilled while departments across the board are preparing for significant budget cuts.

When questioned on Wednesday (8 March) about potential losses to US influence from budget cuts, Acting State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said they are "still in early days with respect to the budget," and that "Secretary Tillerson is resolved to ensure that missions, embassies and consulates overseas have the necessary resources to carry out their mission."