WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump's pick for US ambassador to Russia, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., told lawmakers Tuesday that there is "no question Russia interfered in the US election last summer."
Appearing in his nomination hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Huntsman said the interference in the election has directly led to the low level of trust between Moscow and Washington.
The US government publicly announced in October that it was "confident" Russia orchestrated the hacking of the Democratic National Committee in the lead-up to the election.
And in January, days before President Donald Trump took office, the US intelligence community concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered an "influence campaign" aimed at hurting Trump's rival, Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton.
Trump has branded the investigation the "single greatest witch hunt" in political history and consistently questioned the intelligence community's findings well into his presidency even though the intelligence community did not conclude that Russian efforts made a difference in the election result.
Congressional committees and a Department of Justice special counsel are investigating alleged Russian interference and any potential coordination between Trump associates and Russia.
Huntsman also said that "Russia continues to threaten stability in Europe" by violating the sovereignty of its neighbors.
Tension between the US and Russia has grown in recent years, from the US rebuke of Russia's human rights situation to its opposition to Russian military involvement in Ukraine and Syria.
Huntsman had long been expected to be the official choice for the key diplomatic post, with sources telling CNN in March that he had accepted an offer for the job.
He served as the US ambassador to China during the Obama administration, and launched an unsuccessful presidential bid in 2012. Trump had also reportedly considered Huntsman for secretary of state.
By Zachary Cohen, CNN