Photo credit: Dave Davidson (Prezography.com)

Thursday morning, Sam Clovis asked President Donald Trump to withdraw his name from consideration as the Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Clovis, who is currently a White House liaison to the USDA, was appointed by President Donald Trump to a role that is considered to be the USDA’s Chief Scientist.

Clovis, recently linked to the Russia Investigation, Clovis was identified as George Papadopoulos’s supervisor on Trump’s presidential campaign. Papadopoulos was an early foreign policy advisor to the presidential campaign hired by Clovis, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a professor who had ties with the Russian government. Emails between Clovis and Papadopoulos, submitted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors in the case, appeared to encourage Papadopulos to set-up “off-the-record” meetings with Russian officials The Daily Caller reports:

The Mueller team’s statement of offense asserts that Clovis told Papadopoulos that U.S.-Russia relations were a top focus during a March 6, 2016 meeting. That was the same day that Papadopoulos was told he could join the campaign. He had previously worked on the Ben Carson campaign.

And in an Aug. 15, 2016 email, Clovis wrote that he “would encourage” Papadopoulos to attend an off the record meeting with Russian officials.

Toensing said that the claim about the March 6 meeting is untrue and that the Aug. 15 email was not a serious suggestion.

“Dr. Clovis never told Mr. Papadopoulos that ‘a principal foreign policy focus of the campaign was an improved U.S. relationship with Russia’ because that was not Dr. Clovis’ view of the Trump Campaign’s foreign policy priorities,” Toensing said in a statement.

“Inside the Campaign, Dr. Clovis always vigorously opposed any Russian trip for Donald Trump or staff.”

She said of the Aug. 15 email that when campaign volunteers made foreign policy suggestions, Clovis “would have expressed courtesy and appreciation” because he is “a polite gentleman from Iowa.”

Mueller’s statement of offense says that Papadopoulos’ proposed meeting did not occur.

Other emails exchanged between Clovis and Papadopoulos show that the former also rebuffed some of the latter’s attempts to set up meetings between the campaign and Russians.

Clovis who ran for U.S. Senate and State Treasurer in Iowa in 2014 was the center of controversy in 2016 when he left Rick Perry’s fledgling presidential campaign to become Trump’s campaign co-chair and top policy advisor.

Before the revelation of his connection to Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, Clovis’ appointment had resistance. Clovis holds a doctorate degree in Public Administration, not a scientific field and lacks experience some expect for the position. In reality, however, the role is an administrative one and his critics were only concerned about climate change funding. Questions about his involvement with the Russia investigation would have in all likelihood tanked his confirmation.

In his letter to President Trump, Clovis said that the Beltway’s political climate made it impossible for him to “receive balanced and fair consideration” for the USDA post.

“The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day,” he wrote. Clovis said he didn’t want to be a distraction or negative influence on the President Trump’s agenda.

Clovis said he didn’t want to be a distraction or negative influence on the President Trump’s agenda.

Read the letter below:

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