Trump to nominate Huntsman as Russia ambassador - White House

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump will nominate Jon Huntsman, an envoy to China under former Democratic President Barack Obama, as U.S. ambassador to Russia, the White House said on Tuesday.

The job, all the more high-profile because of allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

If confirmed, Huntsman, who has long been expected to be Trump's pick for the job, will head to Moscow as the U.S. Congress and a special counsel investigate Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election and allegations that Trump's campaign had ties to Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the interference, and Trump has said there was no collusion with Moscow.

Huntsman, a former Utah governor, was U.S. ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011. He has served in the administrations of five U.S. presidents and was a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Trump has said he wants to improve relations with Russia.

The Republican president met with Putin in Germany at the gathering of G20 leaders there earlier this month and officials said he raised the issue of Russian meddling in the election before moving on to other issues such as the war in Syria.

Reports in March that Huntsman would get the Moscow envoy post were greeted with mixed reviews in Moscow, with one politician saying he was "not a dove" and the Kremlin saying it would welcome anyone who was a "convinced proponent" of establishing a dialog with Russia. (Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason; Editing by Peter Cooney and Sandra Maler)

RELATED: Trump-Putin timeline
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Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective
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Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective
June 7: The 2016 primary season essentially concludes, with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the presumptive party nominees
June 9: Donald Trump Jr. — along with Jared Kushner and former campaign chair Paul Manafort — meets with Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
June 9: Trump tweets about Clinton's missing 33,000 emails
July 18: Washington Post reports, on the first day of the GOP convention, that the Trump campaign changed the Republican platform to ensure that it didn't call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces
July 21: GOP convention concludes with Trump giving his speech accepting the Republican nomination
July 22: WikiLeaks releases stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee
July 25: Democratic convention begins
July 27: In final news conference of his 2016 campaign, Trump asks Russia: "If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing"
August 4: Obama CIA Director John Brennan confronts his Russian counterpart about Russia's interference. "[I] told him if you go down this road, it's going to have serious consequences, not only for the bilateral relationship, but for our ability to work with Russia on any issue, because it is an assault on our democracy," Brennan said on "Meet the Press" yesterday.
October 4: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange says his organization will publish emails related to the 2016 campaign
October 7: WikiLeaks begins releasing Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta's emails
October 7: Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence release a statement directly saying that Russia is interfering in the 2016 election
October 31: "This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove," Trump says on the campaign trail
November 4: "Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks," Trump says from Ohio.
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