“Ambassador Huntsman, you work for a pawn, not a president. It’s time to come home,” Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Gehrke wrote on Tuesday.
“As Utahns, many of us were a bit stunned last year when you accepted the job as U.S. ambassador to Russia, but your explanation made sense: It was a role you took on, much like your tenure in China, out of a deep sense of duty,” Gehrke said.
“But that duty is to your country and the best way now to serve your country is not by holding on to some title and being the emissary of a president who doesn’t share your values, or American values, for that matter,” the piece reads.
The paper is owned by Huntsman’s brother, The Hill reports.
Gehrke’s column ran after the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki on Monday.
Huntsman’s response to Gehrke mentioned his colleagues in Russia. He said he decided to respond because, “I respect you as an opinion writer and therefore feel compelled to respond.”
“Their focus is on the work that needs to be done to stabilize the most dangerous relationship in the world, one that encompasses nuclear weapons, fighting terrorism, stopping bloodshed in Ukraine, and seeking a settlement of the seemingly intractable Syrian crisis,” he wrote.
He added, “Their dedication to service to their country is above politics, and it inspires me to the core. It is my standard.”
Huntsman says he will not leave his position as U.S. ambassador in Russia despite the media frenzy surrounding the press conference in Helsinki on Monday, where U.S. President Donald Trump denied that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. He was told to conform to foreign policy standards by his advisors before the conference, according to Huffington Post.
Top officials, including the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have both said Huntsman should resign.
Huntsman was formerly the governor of Utah in 2012.
In the letter to Gehrke defending his decision, Huntsman also claimed that he is “charged with representing our country’s bests interests” and says that they are “complex and often little understood” in the case of Russia.
He also says that foreign service representatives don’t have “the time nor inclination” to obsess over politics despite dealing with the daily consequences. He also defends his sons, who serve as active duty naval officers and cites their “courageous service” in the letter.
He says their words were “unprintable” when he was asked to resign.