Jon Huntsman, the president’s nominee for ambassador to Russia, says there’s ‘no question’ that the Kremlin was behind a plot last year to meddle in the presidential election.
The moderate Republican who served as Barack Obama’s ambassador to China made the assertion during confirmation testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
It put him at odds with President Trump’s position on election interference. Trump has said it could have been Russia, ‘nobody really knows for sure.’
Jon Huntsman, the president’s pick to represent U.S. interests in Russia, says there’s ‘no question’ that the Kremlin was behind a plot last year to meddle in the presidential election
The sitting president was slow to acknowledge that Russia was involved in a campaign to disrupt the national election that put him office.
For months after four U.S. intelligence agencies agreed that Vladimir Putin’s government was behind a hack and leak strategy, in addition to other instances of election meddling, Trump refused to pin the blame on Moscow.
Trump claimed in a December appearance on Fox News that the claim was concocted by cynical Democrats.
‘They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place,’ he said. ‘I mean, they have no idea.’
In July Trump finally said ‘it was Russia.’ He hastily undermined the admission by saying, ‘I think it was probably others also.’
‘I think it could very well have been Russia but I think it well could have been other countries, and I won’t be specific,’ Trump said during a joint press conference in Poland.
Further dizzying his position Trump reporters at another point that ‘nobody really knows for sure.’
His answer put hims at odds with President Trump ‘s position on election interference. Trump has said it could have been Russia, ‘nobody really knows for sure’
The president’s intelligence chiefs have affirmed their predecessors’ conclusion that Moscow ordered the theft and release of emails that damaged the Democratic Party.
Huntsman told Senators who will decide whether he gets to serve as the United States’ representative to the Kremlin, ‘There is no question — underline no question — that the Russia government interfered with the U.S. election last year, and Moscow continues to meddle in processes of our friends and allies.’
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy said he appreciated Huntsman’s ‘clear statement’ as he observed that Trump’s yo-yoing would make his Russian ambassador’s job ‘uniquely hard in a unprecedented way.’
Trump is ‘actively’ trying to cloud the issue, he said, bringing up the Republican president’s June 22 charge that ‘it’s all a big Dem HOAX!’
The Connecticut lawmaker also raised concerns about the mixed messaging coming from Trump and his own intelligence community.
Huntsman said it’s not lost on him that the heads of the CIA, DNI, FBI and NSA have ‘come together in unison behind their findings.’
‘I think that expresses where the facts are with respect to Russia’s involvement in our election,’ Huntsman stated.