Clovis withdraws from consideration for USDA post
November 2, 2017
Sam Clovis, President Donald Trump's nominee for agriculture undersecretary for research, education and economics has withdrawn from consideration for the post in a letter to President Donald Trump.
"The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position," Clovis wrote in a letter Nov. 1 to Trump.
"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," Clovis also wrote.
Clovis told Trump he would continue to serve as White House adviser to the Agriculture Department "at the pleasure of you and the secretary of agriculture."
"This is Dr. Clovis' decision. He has laid out his reasons in the attached letter," a spokesperson for Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in an email.
Clovis wrote the president just as Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., released a letter to him asking about his role as co-chairman of Trump's presidential campaign and the campaign's contacts with Russia.
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Stabenow's letter was a signal that if Clovis had come before the Senate Agriculture Committee for a confirmation hearing, he would have faced these questions in public.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., had told reporters that the hearing would be held Nov. 9, but his office has said the details were still being worked out. Roberts on several occasions had expressed a lack of enthusiasm about Clovis's nomination.
Stabenow's office noted in a news release, "The letter comes after new information surfaced this week from criminal filings that were released against former Trump campaign officials. This raised a number of questions regarding the extent of Clovis' involvement with the campaign's interactions with Russia as a 'campaign supervisor.'"
"From early on, I have strongly opposed the nomination of Sam Clovis to be the chief scientist at USDA," Stabenow said in the news release.
"The emerging information about his role in the Trump campaign's interactions with Russia raises serious concerns. As we consider his nomination, I will be looking into these facts, along with his questionable qualifications and long history of divisive and outrageous statements."
Roberts has not issued a statement on Clovis as of early Nov. 2, but Stabenow said in an email, "Sam Clovis' decision to withdraw his nomination as chief scientist is a victory for science and our farmers who rely on agricultural research."
"From day one, it was clear to me that Sam Clovis was the wrong choice for our farmers and ranchers. His lack of qualifications and long history of politically divisive statements were disqualifying, and the recent news surrounding his time as co-chair of the Trump campaign has raised even more questions."
Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said, "Sam Clovis was almost a comically bad nominee, even for this administration."
"He is inarguably unqualified, and he is wrong on almost every major issue relevant to the chief scientist post to which he was nominated," Leahy said.
"His nomination is all too typical of the anti-science agenda and the know-nothingism pushed by President Trump and his administration. But President Trump already knew that when he nominated Mr. Clovis, and that is not why his nomination was abruptly pulled today. Not because of his association with birtherism or as a climate change denier, or his other repugnant assertions."
Meanwhile, CNN reported Nov. 1 that Clovis criticized schools for teaching environmentalism, racial awareness and pacifism. ❖