U.S. President Donald Trump has nominated John Sullivan to be the U.S. ambassador to Russia.
Sullivan is currently the No. 2 official at the State Department and, if confirmed to the new post by the Senate, he would replace Jon Huntsman Jr., who announced in August that he was resigning from his position as the top U.S. diplomat in Russia.
Trump announced the decision to nominate Sullivan Friday after saying in August he was considering him for the job.
Here’s a look at his background and experience:
- Sullivan has been the deputy secretary of state since early in the Trump administration, and he served briefly last year as acting secretary when Trump fired Rex Tillerson.
- He was confirmed by the Senate in 2017 by a vote of 94-6, garnering wide support from Republicans and Democrats.
- Sullivan held senior positions in the Commerce and Defense departments during the administration of George W. Bush.
- He served in the Justice Department in 1991 during the administration of George H.W. Bush.
His name came up Friday in testimony by former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who told Congress that Sullivan was the person to inform her that she was being recalled early from her post in Ukraine. She said Sullivan told her the State Department was under pressure from the White House to fire her.
The controversy surrounding the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine has led to one of the administration’s biggest challenges, with Congress opening an impeachment inquiry into the matter.
If confirmed by the Senate, Sullivan would become ambassador to Russia at a time when relations between the United States and Russia have cooled, following fallout from Russia’s attempt to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election, diplomatic expulsions in both countries, and a deterioration of arms control treaties between Washington and Moscow.
Trump’s interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin have been under heavy scrutiny since the 2016 election, and the United States and Russia often find themselves on opposite sides of global issues, including Syria, Venezuela, Iran and Ukraine.