Sam Clovis withdraws his nomination for USDA’s top scientist post after being linked to Russia probe

The Washington Post reports: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientist nominee, Sam Clovis withdrew his name from consideration Wednesday amid revelations that he was among top officials on the Trump campaign who was aware of efforts by foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos to broker a relationship between the campaign and Russian officials.

Court documents unsealed Monday revealed that Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in early October to making false statement to FBI investigators about his contacts with foreigners claiming to have high-level Russian connections. In August 2016, Clovis encouraged Papadopoulos to organize an “off the record” meeting with Russian officials, according to court documents. “I would encourage you” and another foreign policy adviser to the campaign to “make the trip, if it is feasible,” Clovis wrote. The meeting did not ultimately take place.

In a letter to the president Wednesday, Clovis explained that he did not think he could get a fair consideration from the Senate, which was slated to hold a hearing on his appointment on Nov. 9.

“The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position,” wrote Clovis, who currently serves as USDA’s senior White House adviser. “The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases with intensity each day.” [Continue reading…]

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