Ex-Trump campaign official withdraws nomination for ag post
WASHINGTON (AP) — A former Trump campaign official linked to the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller has withdrawn his nomination as the Agriculture Department's chief scientist.
Sam Clovis, a former Trump campaign national co-chairman and chief policy adviser, wrote in a letter today to President Donald Trump he does "not want to be a distraction or a negative influence."
Questions had been raised about Clovis' qualifications for the administration post. He is a self-described skeptic of climate change.
Republicans were preparing to have a hearing on his nomination next week. But it was revealed this week that Clovis had communications with George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who has admitted to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian intermediaries last year.
"There were some questions that our distinguished ranking member had for him that I think under the circumstances – and given the votes – his decision was a good one," said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of the Agriculture Committee.
The panel's top Democrat, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, said Clovis' decision to back out was "the right thing to do," adding he "maybe, barely" had the votes to win confirmation.
In his letter, Clovis said the political climate in Washington "has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position."