Russia scandal forces Sam Clovis out of a top USDA position. - Grist


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Russia scandal forces Sam Clovis out of a top USDA position.

Earlier this week, we found out that Clovis, who Trump nominated to be the chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, encouraged George Papadopoulos to attend an off-the-record meeting with Russian officials during the presidential campaign.

On Wednesday, Clovis withdrew from consideration for the position. In a letter to the president, Clovis wrote: “The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day. 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.”

Democrats, and many scientists, had objected to a man with no background in science or agriculture taking the top science position at the USDA. Even Clovis admitted that he had no relevant experience in agriculture or the natural sciences.

But it was the Russia investigation, not the lack of qualification, that sunk his nomination.

This doesn’t mean Clovis is leaving Washington. For now, he’ll continue in his role as the USDA’s senior White House adviser.