- Sam Clovis, a former top campaign official for Donald Trump, withdrew from his nomination to an Agriculture Department post. The announcement comes just days after it was reported that he was the unnamed “campaign supervisor” who urged a foreign policy adviser to meet with Russians during the campaign.
Sam Clovis, a former top campaign official for Donald Trump who urged George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser, to meet with Russian officials during the campaign, withdrew his nomination on Thursday to an Agriculture Department post, the Associated Press reported.
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.”
Clovis was nominated to be the USDA’s chief scientist, a position which The Washington Post found he is lacking in academic and scientific credentials for. Clovis was set to have his confirmation hearing next week.
“The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day,” he wrote. “As I am focused on your success and the success of this administration, I do not want to be a distraction or negative influence, particularly with so much important work left to do for the American people.”
The Post reported Monday that Clovis, who served as the Trump campaign’s national co-chairman, was the unnamed “campaign supervisor” mentioned in a court filing who urged Papadopoulos to meet with the Russians. That court filing, issued as a part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, said Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI.
The document showed that the foreign policy adviser had emailed members of the campaign, including Clovis and campaign chairman Paul Manafort, to try brokering a meeting with Russians, and Clovis told him to “make the trip, if it is feasible.”
Clovis’ lawyer, Victoria Toensing, told The Post that Clovis was actually just “being polite” in his response to Papadopoulos, adding that the campaign had a “strict rule that no person could travel abroad as a representative of the campaign.”
Responding to Clovis’ withdrawal, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the press pool, “We respect Mr. Clovis’ decision to withdraw his nomination.”
Read Clovis’ full letter:
JUST IN: President Trump's pick for Department of Agriculture chief scientist withdraws name from consideration pic.twitter.com/UMkrnrhA5u
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 2, 2017