Sam Clovis has formally withdrawn from the race to be the Department of Agriculture’s chief scientist.
Clovis was the Trump campaign’s former national co-chair and there are couple of common sense reasons why he might have decided that the position doesn’t suit him.
First of all, he doesn’t posses any actual academic credentials in science or agriculture. So that being the case, maybe top scientist in the literal Department of Agriculture isn’t a good fit. Earlier today, WaPo published a letter Clovis sent to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee’s top Democrat, Debbie Stabenow. Asked to list “all graduate level courses you have taken in natural science”, Clovis responded as follows:
Asked to “describe any awards, designations, or academic recognition you have received specifically related to agricultural science”, Clovis responded in a remarkably similar fashion. To wit:
You can read the hilarious letter embedded below that finds Clovis attempting to explain why, despite having no advanced education in natural science and no expertise to speak of in the field of agriculture, he is nevertheless a good candidate for the job.
As WaPo dryly notes, the 2008 farm bill specifies that appointees to the position should be chosen “from among distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics,” given that the official is “responsible for the coordination of the research, education, and extension activities of the Department.”
Of course if you want to know the real reason Clovis is no longer interested in the post, look no further than this tweet from AP (who broke the story):
BREAKING: Former Trump campaign official linked to Mueller's Russia investigation withdraws nomination for agriculture post
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) November 2, 2017
See Sam was George Papadopoulos’s supervisor on the Trump campaign. That would be the same Papadopoulos who is now a cooperating witness in the Mueller probe.
Clovis was identified only as a “campaign supervisor” in the court documents unsealed on Monday. Those documents describe emails between Clovis and Papadopoulos and as it turns out, ol’ Sam at one point responded “Great work” when Papadopoulos talked about his interactions with Kremlin surrogates who sought to set up a meeting with Trump and Putin reps.
Obviously, those revelations cast considerable doubt on whether Clovis should get a job he was in no way qualified for in the first place and indeed the above-mentioned Debbie Stabenow told USA Today that she had “serious concerns” about his nomination in light of recent events. To wit:
The emerging information about his role in the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia raises serious concerns.
Now Clovis is throwing in the towel, presumably so as not to have to suffer the humiliation of going through a confirmation hearing during a time when he’s implicated in the Mueller probe.
Sorry, Sam. If the “I’m not really a scientist” bit doesn’t get ya, the “I may have committed a little bit of treason” bit surely will…