Scott Hutchins, an executive at DowDuPont, is President Trump’s choice for USDA chief scientist, announced the White House on Monday. The post of chief scientist, which doubles as undersecretary for research, has been vacant since Trump took office.
Six months after withdrawing his nomination for USDA chief scientist, Sam Clovis will leave the department on Friday and return to Iowa. The nomination was doomed when Clovis was caught up in the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
From the first day of the Trump administration, Sam Clovis was the White House liaison to the USDA. Although he is keeping that job, he is abandoning a divisive bid to be USDA chief scientist. Withdrawal of the nomination highlights the startlingly slow pace of the administration in providing an executive team to help Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue put Trump policies into play.
The senior Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee asked USDA nominee Sam Clovis in a letter why, as a co-chair of the Trump presidential campaign, he encouraged an off-the-record meeting with Russian government officials. The meeting was proposed by foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his repeated contacts with Russians in 2016.
President Trump supports the nomination of Sam Clovis to serve as USDA chief scientist despite court documents showing that his former campaign co-chair encouraged foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos to meet Russian officials surreptitiously, said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. The court documents put Clovis, the most controversial USDA nominee in 15 years, back into the public spotlight and may delay action on the nomination.
As a co-chair of the Trump presidential campaign, Sam Clovis handled emails from foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who tried from April to August 2016 to arrange a meeting between the campaign and the Russian government and has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about it. According to one report, Clovis is the unnamed "Campaign Supervisor" cited in court documents who told Papadopoulous in mid-August, "I would encourage you" to make an off-the-record trip to Russia.
The lead Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee wants to interview the USDA’s Sam Clovis, a co-chair of the Trump presidential campaign, about proposals that Trump representatives meet Russian government officials during the 2016 campaign.
For the second time, the Senate Agriculture Committee will consider President Trump’s nominees for USDA policymaking positions, though it has yet to schedule a hearing for Sam Clovis, co-chair of Trump’s presidential campaign and the most controversial USDA nominee in 15 years. Instead, committee leaders called a hearing for Oct. 5 on Bill Northey, nominated for undersecretary for farm production and conservation, and Greg Ibach, for undersecretary for marketing and regulation.
The senior Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, said in a letter to supporters that she opposes the nomination of Sam Clovis to be the USDA's chief scientist, "and I call on President Trump to withdraw it immediately," reported Hill Heat, which covers global warming. Stabenow is the first member of the agriculture committee to formally oppose Clovis, a co-chair of Trump's presidential campaign and his chief political liaison at the USDA.
"Most of that group also lack experience working in agriculture. The 42 appointees include a number who do have farm-policy chops — but none of those tout time on the Trump campaign," said Politico in its Morning Ag newsletter. "Among this crop of appointees are a former cabana boy, a truck driver, an AT&T cellular phone salesman and the owner of a scented-candle company."