Clovis withdraws from consideration for USDA post

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Sam Clovis speaks during a 2016 news conference as then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (left) watches before a campaign rally in Dubuque, Iowa.

Victoria Toensing, a lawyer for Clovis, did not dispute that but added that her client never said improving U.S. -Russia relations was a "principal foreign policy focus" because that was not his view of Trump's priorities.

Clovis is a self-described skeptic of climate change. "The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases with intensity each day".

"We respect Mr. Clovis' decision to withdraw his nomination", White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement to pool reporters.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is facing renewed questions over how much he knew about Russian efforts to interfere with the US election, after it was revealed this week that he attended meetings with a Trump campaign adviser who claimed to have extensive contacts with Russians.

Clovis, who possesses a bachelor's degree in political science, an MBA degree and a doctorate in public administration, repeatedly acknowledged his lack of background in the hard sciences when responding to Stabenow.

The White House did not comment Wednesday night, and messages to Clovis' attorney regarding the latest developments in the Russian Federation investigation were not returned. After the news of the indictments broke, The Washington Post and CNN reported that Trump was seething in the White House about the news.

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Sam Clovis, a former Trump campaign national co-chairman and chief policy adviser, wrote in a letter to President Trump dated Thursday that he does "not want to be a distraction or a negative influence", per the AP.

Asked about a pending announcement of his foreign policy team, Trump listed Papadopoulos as one of five advisers.

"The attorney general has been entirely truthful and consistent on this matter", the source said, referring to Sessions' testimony before Congress where he rejected the notion of meetings and interactions with Russians during the campaign season.

In August 2016, the supervisor wrote to Papadopoulos in reference to a possible "off the record" meeting with Russian officials, saying: "I would encourage you" and another foreign policy adviser "to make the trip".

But it was revealed this week that Clovis had communications with George Papadopoulos, who has admitted to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his contacts with Russian intermediaries past year.

In a statement released earlier this week, Clovis said Papadopoulos "was acting on his own and that the campaign had a strict rule against traveling overseas and claiming to speak on behalf of the campaign", Bloomberg News reported. One suspects, from his delivery, that if Jason Voorhees had been listed, Trump would have read his name and said: "Hockey player".

Asked about his agriculture research experience, Clovis replied, "I bring 17 years of agriculture experience integrated into both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses throughout my teaching career as reflected in my curriculum vitae as well as the Committee's questionnaire".

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