Jon Huntsman Jr.
Jon Huntsman Jr was appointed new US ambassador to Russia Emmanuel Dunand/AFP

Donald Trump's decision, on 9 March, to appoint Jon Huntsman Jr as ambassador to Russia has baffled many. Huntsman Jr was criticised by the current US president for "lightweight" diplomacy while he served as Obama's ambassador to China.

Here is everything you need to know about Trump's representative in Moscow.

Jon Huntsman Jr fact file

  • Date of birth: 26 March 1960.
  • Place of birth: Redwood City, California.
  • Education: BA in International Politics from University of Pennsylvania.
  • Career: US ambassador to Singapore, trade representative in Bush administration, Governor of Utah and ambassador to China in Obama administration.
  • Family: Married with 7 children.


Huntsman Jr grew up in a political setting. His father, billionaire businessman Jon Huntsman Sr, served as special assistant to President Nixon. After serving as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan for two years, Huntsman Jr followed in his father's footsteps, and became a staff assistant to President Reagan.

He held several positions in Bush Sr's administration in the trade and commerce department. He was appointed as ambassador to Singapore in 1992, becoming the youngest US consul in over 100 years.

In 2004, Huntsman Jr became the governor of Utah and left office with approval ratings of over 80%. He was a staunch supporter of John McCain's presidential campaign, while most other politicians in Utah supported Mitt Romney.

President Obama selected Huntsman Jr as his ambassador to China in 2009 because of his proficiency in Mandarin and knowledge of the nation. He left the role in 2011 to run for president as a Republican candidate – having come third in the New Hampshire primary, he then dropped out of the race to endorse Romney.

Huntsman Jr is married and has seven children.

Rocky relationship with Trump

Donald Trump and Huntsman Jr have reportedly not always been on friendly terms. Huntsman Jr waited a long time to endorse Trump, only choosing to back his campaign once he became the presumptive nominee. In October 2016, he also called for Trump to drop out of the race after the video emerged of the billionaire bragging about using his fame to try and grope women. Huntsman Jr described Trump's campaign cycle as "nothing but a race to the bottom" and called on Vice-President Mike Pence to become the Republican candidate.

Trump has been highly critical of Huntsman Jr.'s diplomacy in the past. In a series of tweets, in 2011, Trump described him as a "lightweight" and a "weak diplomat" while he served as Obama's ambassador to China. The Twitter attack was in response to Huntsman Jr.'s comments during a Republican primary debate, where he criticised Trump for advocating protectionism.

"I don't subscribe to the Don Trump school ... of international trade. I don't want to find ourselves in a trade war," he said.