Jon Huntsman says impeachment is divisive, leaves ‘lasting scars’ on nation
Former Utah governor says ‘let all the facts come out’ on whistleblower’s complaint that sparked impeachment inquiry
SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. says he has concerns about what he called “the rush to impeachment” of President Donald Trump.
“It would be a far better thing if we could leave our differences for the next election, because we’re a year out and there’s no more powerful tool in politics than the ballot box,” Huntsman said Thursday.
“I just hope that whatever is happening now in the name of impeachment and impeachment inquiry does not leave us worse off, if it moves in that direction, which I hope it doesn’t,” Huntsman told KSL-TV in his first interview after his return from Moscow, where he served as U.S. ambassador to Russia for two years.
The former Republican governor said impeachment proceedings are divisive and “leave lasting scars on our politics, and on our culture, and on our goodness as a country.
“I don’t think that we should allow any form of meddling in our politics by foreign parties. I think that’s crossing red lines. But let all the facts come out,” he continued, referencing reports that Trump tried to persuade the Ukraine government to investigate political foe Joe Biden. “We do have a whistleblower who’s brought forward some information and that ought to be heard, it ought to be seen.”
Earlier this week, Huntsman confirmed to the Deseret News that he may make a third run for governor of the Beehive State.
“We’re going to give it some thought,” he said Thursday, sitting next to his wife Mary Kaye Huntsman at the Huntsman corporate headquarters in Salt Lake City. He said he would consult with family and talk with people around the state in the next couple months.
In coming years, as the U.S. faces growing economic and political pressures, Utah will feel its own strain as one the country’s most rapidly growing states — and could be a model for the U.S. and other countries, he said.
He emphasized he has ruled out a presidential run, however.
“It’s an exercise and showmanship and entertainment,” he said. “And I don’t like that part of politics.”
Huntsman’s time as ambassador to Russia has raised his concerns about interference in 2020 and in future elections by Russia and other countries, he said.
“It’s a real threat and one that we’re just not prepared to combat right now, but it is a huge vulnerability for us, both at a local level and a national level,” Huntsman said.
“A lot of Americans don’t know if what they’re reading online is legit or if it’s been ginned up in some troll farm in St. Petersburg, Russia, or Shanghai, China,” he said. “They don’t know the difference. ... And that’s where it becomes extremely dangerous, because it serves to exacerbate the divide that already is pretty extreme, and that’s exactly what our adversaries want to see done.”
During the wide-ranging interview, Huntsman characterized Trump’s style as “sometimes shoot-from-the-hip.” Though foreign leaders in recent years may have seen tweets from the president, “taken it at face value and maybe freaked out,” he said, they have now come to accept his style.
“They’ve learned to deal with it,” he said.
While Huntsman characterized the ambassador post as a positive experience, he said it was difficult to be away as his father’s health failed. Jon Huntsman Sr., the billionaire businessman and philanthropist, died in February 2018.
“I told him I’d get back to see him before he passed and despite our best efforts, we got to town right as he passed, so I wasn’t able to see him right at the very end, which was tough,” Huntsman said.
He and Mary Kaye Huntsman said they were looking forward to spending time with several grandchildren who were born during the two-year period.
“We gave it everything we’ve got and decided it was time to get back to normal life,” Huntsman said.