SALT LAKE CITY — The Deseret News sent reporter Jesse Hyde and photojournalist Ravell Call to Moscow to meet with Jon Huntsman Jr., the U.S. ambassador to Russia.
In a series of conversations, Huntsman talked about what it’s like to work for President Donald Trump amid a tense relationship with Russia. He revealed that he has dealt with a health scare, as well as what he sees as the next major form of international warfare.
Here are seven takeaways from the exclusive report.
- “It’s just stage 1,” he said. “So we’ll probably get it taken care of, and we’ll be fine.”
- It’s the same type of cancer that killed Arizona Sen. John McCain after it metastasized to the brain.
- Huntsman received treament while in Utah.
Russian election meddling
Hyde asked Huntsman "if the president had held Russia accountable for election interference in the private meetings in Helsinki."
“Every one," Huntsman replied. "Every one of them. I’ve been in all of them. Election meddling is brought up.”
“By the president?” Hyde asked.
“So this is the secretary of state, the national security adviser, but yeah, the president talked about all these issues in the private meeting with President Putin where they were together. I’d guess it was brought up because they’re pretty consistent in terms of talking about it and certainly over lunch these issues were talked about."
“... A lot of diplomacy is conducted behind closed doors,” Huntsman continued. “Emphatic statements have been made. There is no lingering doubt about the importance of this issue. I can’t imagine anyone in the high commands of the Russian government would be thinking, gee, maybe we can do this.”
Would he resign?
After the Helsinki summit meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Huntsman was asked if he would resign. The question, reported Hyde, "troubled" Huntsman. "He worried about what it said about the current state of America," the story reads.
Huntsman said cyberwarfare is on the rise and no one knows how to stop it.
- “We still don’t know how to provide a defense against cyberattacks, still.”
- “You can plus up and get better technology and better prophylactic measures but anyone who wants to attack you on the offensive side has an advantage, which in the other domains of war is not the case.”
The midterm elections
Huntsman was asked what would happen if Russia did try to interfere with the upcoming midterms.
“We don’t want to foreshadow what it could be,” he said. “But it could be pretty dramatic.”
A future president?
His wife, Mary Kaye Huntsman, says of her husband: “He’d never get elected these days." When asked why not, she replied, “He’s not crazy enough.”
The 2016 presidential election
Huntsman provided insight into the 2016 election.
- “Sometimes you’re going to win, sometimes you’re going to lose, but let’s try to work with the people who win and make it the very best you can.”
- “We’ve entered the worst phase right now which is we’re now going to try to spend four years ripping down the person who has won, as opposed to saying, ‘What can we do to contribute to their success in areas that will make the country better and stronger?'”