President TrumpDonald John TrumpSecurity analyst calls Trump’s language on Hong Kong protests ‘inappropriate’ Americans’ opinions about China hit record low: survey Pentagon watchdog says it is officially reviewing billion ‘war cloud’ contract MORE is mulling replacing Jon Huntsman, the outgoing ambassador to Russia, with Steve Biegun, the administration’s chief negotiator on North Korea, two administration officials told CNN.
Huntsman announced last week that he will step down from his post in October after two years at the State Department as reports surfaced that he is considering a run for another term as Utah’s governor, a role he served in from 2005 to 2009. Besides serving as the State Department’s representative in Russia, Huntsman also served as President Obama’s ambassador to China for two years.
Biegun is seen as a viable replacement for Huntsman given his past government experience, having served as the National Security Council’s executive secretary under President George W. Bush and spent 14 years as a congressional aide in both chambers of Congress.
Prior to his service in government, Biegun earned a bachelor’s degree in Russian language and political science from the University of Michigan and went on to work as the in-country director for the International Republican Institute in Moscow from 1992 to 1994. He’s also served on the board of the nonprofit U.S.-Russia Foundation for Economic Development.
Another aspect of Biegun’s career that reportedly caught the administration’s eye is his experience working on international government relations for Ford Motors, experience some believe could help him negotiate U.S.-Russia trade relations, an issue on which Trump has put a premium.
Richard Grenell, the current ambassador to Germany who has a close relationship with the president, has also been floated as a possible replacement for Huntsman. However, a source close to Grenell told CNN he is not interested in the Moscow post.