Former Trump campaign adviser denies encouraging aide on Russian Federation dealings

Friday, 03 Nov, 2017

Candidate Donald Trump did not dismiss the idea of arranging a meeting with Russia's president when it was suggested in a meeting with his campaign foreign policy advisers a year ago, according to a person in the room.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientist nominee, Sam Clovis, who now serves as the agency's senior White House adviser, confirmed in an October 17 letter obtained by The Washington Post that he has no academic credentials in either science or agriculture.

Questions had been raised about his qualifications to serve as the Agriculture Department's chief scientist.

"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 addressed to Trump that was dated Wednesday.

Clovis' testimony comes on the heels of another Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleading guilty to lying to federal authorities. "The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases with intensity each day".

The post for which President Trump has nominated his campaign co-chair - USDA undersecretary for research, education and economics - has traditionally been held by individuals with advanced degrees in science or medicine. After the news of the indictments broke, The Washington Post and CNN reported that Trump was seething in the White House about the news.

But the former Iowa talk radio host and political science professor contended in the letter to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee's top Democrat, Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), that his time teaching and running for political office in the Hawkeye State steeped him in the field of agriculture. "That's something I've tried to communicate to Democrats in Washington when they get overly absorbed with Russian Federation and with Trump is to say, 'Look, most people don't have the time to sit down and watch the political talk shows or read the political newspapers'".

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Papadopoulos said he received the information in April 2016 that Russians had "dirt" on Clinton and thousands of emails - about three months before the WikiLeaks organization began releasing troves of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee, according to the court filing.

"And in Monica-gate with Bill Clinton in which he was actually impeached but not convicted - no matter what the White House said, it turned out that things were not going well".

Senate Agricultural Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, told Politico that Clovis has been "a fully cooperative witness" in the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian meddling.

"That was a fairly stunning event for both of us and it did highlight the problem more significantly than it had been before", Sessions said, referring to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.

"Jeff Sessions was the head of the national security operation" in Trump's campaign, Senator Richard Blumenthal of CT, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview.

Clovis, a novice to national presidential campaigns, was supervising Papadopoulos and became a visible spokesman for Trump on CNN and other networks.