Huntsman takes clear stand on Russian interference in first confirmation hearing

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah- (ABC4 Utah) – The long awaited confirmation process for former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. is finally underway.

He's President Trumps pick for Ambassador to Russia.

Tuesday, Huntsman went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It's the first step in what is expected to be a slam dunk confirmation.

"I think this the most important position, so far dealing with international relations," said Hinckley Institute of Politics Director Jason Perry.

In his first hearing, Huntsman wasted no time in taking a clear stance on Russian meddling.

"There is no question, underline no question, that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election last year, and Moscow continues to meddle in the democratic processes of our friends and allies," said Huntsman.

He also told the committee Russia is a threat to stability in Europe, and expressed concern that the country restricts the human rights of its own people.

Perry says Huntsman's approach changed the dynamic of the hearing.

Many were expecting a more politically charged exchange aimed at the Administration.

"What we saw today, is that there are some issues that transcend politics. There were opportunities for people to grandstand about Russia, about the Trump Administration. That grandstanding turned to what looked like legitimate concern about the American way of life, and about the election process itself," Perry said.

Perry says Huntsman connected with senators on both sides of the aisle with his performance.

He also says Huntsman's previous stint as Ambassador to China, and his diplomatic nature set him up perfectly for this moment.

"He is, without question the best, most qualified person for this position," said Perry.

Perry predicts Huntsman will fly through committee on a unanimous vote. He also believes he will easily get through the senate.


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