Published: Thu, November 02, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Trump advisor, linked to Russian Federation probe, withdraws candidacy for post

Trump advisor, linked to Russian Federation probe, withdraws candidacy for post

Sam Clovis said on Thursday he would not go forward in trying to become the USDA's undersecretary for research, education and economics.

A lawyer for Clovis, who is now a senior White House adviser to the Agriculture Department, did not respond to a request for comment.

George Papadopoulos is not only the name of a former Trump campaign aide who has pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents, but also a financial planner in MI - who is desperately trying to make clear that he is not that George Papadopoulos.

On Tuesday, several thousand scientists and researchers affiliated with two national organizations that have rallied against Clovis's nomination signed letters urging the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry not to confirm him.

"The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day", Clovis wrote in the letter, dated Wednesday.

Responding to Clovis' withdrawal, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the press pool, "We respect Mr. Clovis' decision to withdraw his nomination". In August 2016, Clovis encouraged Papadopoulos to organize an "off the record" meeting with Russian officials, according to court documents. The FBI did not identify Clovis.

That might come as a surprise to candidate Donald Trump, who in a March 2016 meeting with the editorial board of the Washington Post highlighted George Papadopoulos' role in his campaign. She added that his responses to Mr Papadopoulos were courtesy by "a polite gentleman from Iowa". Patrick Leahy, a member of the committee, said.

"From early on, I have strongly opposed the nomination of Sam Clovis to be the chief scientist at USDA", she said in a statement.

Mr Clovis is a former Iowa talk radio host and political science professor.

One question is whether Clovis encouraged Papadopoulos to keep meeting with or talking with Russians, or whether Clovis did anything else to build ties between the campaign and foreigners trying to influence the US election. Republicans were preparing to hold a hearing on his nomination next week. But he had been a contentious pick since Trump first nominated him this spring, given the fact that he has no experience in the hard sciences and had made controversial comments in the past on climate change and gay rights. Likewise, he called Obama a "Maoist" and said Attorney General Eric Holder is a "racist black".

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