Trump Appointee For Top Position Withdraws Nomination as Russia Probe Uncovers Suspicious Ties.
A former Trump campaign aide dropped out of the running on Thursday for a senior position at the Department of Agriculture three days after his name was tied to a former campaign foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. over his contacts with Russia.
The campaign aide, Sam Clovis, told President Trump that he decided to withdraw from consideration to be the chief scientist at the Department of Agriculture, the White House said.
“The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position,” Mr. Clovis wrote in a letter on Wednesday to Mr. Trump. Mr. Clovis’s qualifications to be the chief scientist at the department have been questioned, as he is not a scientist himself. “The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day.”
Mr. Clovis’s request to drop out of consideration is the latest blow to the Trump administration that for months has been dogged by the special counsel investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mr. Clovis, an early campaign adviser, has met with the special counsel’s team.
On Monday, it was disclosed that Mr. Clovis discussed the Trump campaign’s priorities for relations with Russia with the foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty last month to lying to the F.B.I. about his communications with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to interviews and court papers.
Mr. Clovis was among the Trump campaign officials who knew that Mr. Papadopoulos was developing contacts in Moscow and trying to to arrange a meeting for Mr. Trump in Russia.
“Great work,” Mr. Clovis wrote in a March 2016 email to Mr. Papadopoulos. Mr. Clovis, an economics professor, Tea Party activist and Air Force veteran, helped supervise the foreign policy team.
Read his letter to Trump here: