Trump nominee Sam Clovis withdraws consideration for USDA post amid Russian Federation probe

A former senior adviser on President Donald Trump's campaign team, Sam Clovis, sought to distance himself on Tuesday from George Papadopoulos, an ex-campaign aide who has pleaded guilty in the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

Sam Clovis, President Donald Trump's nominee to be the Department of Agriculture's chief scientist, withdrew himself from consideration Thursday, the White House announced.

Clovis told Trump he would continue to serve as White House adviser to the Agriculture Department "at the pleasure of you and the secretary of agriculture".

In a letter to President Donald Trump, Clovis wrote that the "political climate" in Washington, DC "has made it impossible" for him to "receive balanced and fair consideration for this position".

In a letter to Trump on Wednesday, Clovis said he was "eternally grateful and humbled" by the nomination but would like his name withdrawn.

The second indictment concerned former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who admitted to making a false statement to FBI investigators who asked about his contacts with foreigners claiming to have high-level Russian connections. "The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases with intensity each day". Many objected over the summer when Trump fumed at Sessions for recusing himself from the Russian Federation investigation and began hinting he would fire his attorney general.

The undersecretary position has historically been filled by people with advanced degrees in science or medicine, The Washington Post reported.

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But the former Iowa talk radio host and political science professor contended in the letter to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee's top Democrat, Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), that his time teaching and running for political office in the Hawkeye State steeped him in the field of agriculture. "His lack of qualifications and long history of politically divisive statements were disqualifying, and the recent news surrounding his time as co-chair of the Trump campaign has raised even more questions".

Asked about a pending announcement of his foreign policy team, Trump listed Papadopoulos as one of five advisers.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents about his dealings with Russians, including an April 2016 meeting in which he was told the Russians had "dirt" on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton that entailed "thousands of emails".

"Reasonably enough, the law requires that the USDA's chief scientist actually be a scientist", said CSPI president Dr. Peter G. Lurie.

"He's an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy", Trump said.

Clovis was set to have his confirmation hearing next week.

Clovis, a novice to national presidential campaigns, was supervising Papadopoulos and became a visible spokesman for Trump on CNN and other networks. Likewise, he called Obama a "Maoist" and said Attorney General Eric Holder is a "racist black".

  • Adam Floyd