Trump names John Sullivan as his pick for U.S. ambassador to Russia

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan arrives at the Lopez Palace in Asuncion, Paraguay September 6, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Adorno

(This October 11 story corrects biographical information in paragraph 5. Original information relates to another man of same name.)

(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he will nominate U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan to be the U.S. ambassador to Russia.

If confirmed by the Senate, Sullivan would be the top U.S. diplomat in Russia at a particularly challenging time for Trump’s presidency, which is facing an impeachment inquiry after Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate his domestic political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden

Trump had said in August he was considering Sullivan for the envoy job. Sullivan had also been under consideration to be Trump’s national security adviser, a role that ultimately ended up going to Robert O’Brien, the former U.S. special envoy for hostage affairs.

Sullivan will replace Jon Huntsman, who resigned in August after two years in the post, amid speculation that he will run for Utah governor.

Sullivan was a lawyer and had served in previous Republican administrations before becoming the deputy secretary of state in 2017.

Moscow has come under fire from Washington most recently because U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential elections. Russia has denied wrongdoing.

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Bill Berkrot