Diplomat Jon Huntsman resigned today as Donald Trump’s ambassador to Russia.
His final day as Trump’s man in Moscow will be Oct. 3, he said in a letter to Trump that emerged today.
In the resignation announcement, Huntsman fired a parting shot at Vladimir Putin, warning Trump he is not to be trusted.
‘Going forward, we must continue to hold Russia accountable when its behavior threatens us and our allies,’ he told Trump.
Huntsman reminded him that Russia has a history of disrespecting human rights and violating the sovereignty of its neighbors.
And he cautioned Trump against a ‘reset’ with Russia.
‘No reset or restart is going to help, just a clear understanding of our interests and values — and a practical framework for sustained dialogue,’ he told Trump.
In the letter that first appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune, which is owned by Huntsman’s brother, the exiting U.S. ambassador said that many of the differences between the U.S. and Russia are ‘irreconcilable,’ because Moscow refuses to disavow the malign behavior that fostered frosty relations between the two nations in the first place.
‘Through our diplomacy, we have worked to stabilize years of acrimony and incertitude with the hope of a better relationship,’ he said of the team he leaves behind. ‘Failure is not an option.’
He noted that it is a ‘historically difficult time’ in relations, hinting at Russian election interference and years-long investigations into the conduct.
The poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter, who were living in London a the time, and Russia’s continued occupation of the Crimea, have also strained relations between Western nations and Moscow.
Trump’s plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow – which he ultimately abandoned as his candidacy for the presidency took off – became the subject of congressional scrutiny last year.
Following testimony from his former attorney, Michael Cohen, the president acknowledged that while he was running for office, he signed a letter of intent to begin the project.
Cohen admitted that he’d personally lied about the timeline for a deal to Congress. He said in a revised statement that the deal was under discussion when Trump said he had no business interests in Russia.
Trump’s presidential campaign was otherwise accused of working with the foreign government to boost the Republican’s odds of winning the White House. He incessantly denied the charges and claimed victory when a special counsel could not find evidence of a conspiracy to collude with Russia.
The U.S. president blamed the ‘Russian hoax’ and ‘fake news’ claims for tension with Moscow in his administration.
At the same time, he has claimed that his administration has been ‘tougher on Russia’ for disruptive and threatening activities than any recent one.
His current ambassador to Moscow’s departure will be a test of Trump’s claims.
Who he replaces Huntsman with will indicate just how aggressively he plans to be with Putin if Russia meddles in the 2020 election or further expands its nuclear stockpile.
Trump reportedly previewed the move to Putin last week.
Huntsman is leaving the administration, because he anticipated to seek the governor’s mansion again in Utah.
He cited he and his wife’s desire to ‘reconnect with our growing family’ as an official reason for resigning in his letter.