A former Trump campaign official linked to the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller has withdrawn his nomination for an agriculture post. Sam Clovis, a former Trump campaign national co-chairman and chief policy adviser, wrote in a letter to President Trump dated Thursday that he does "not want to be a distraction or a negative influence," per the AP. Questions had been raised about his qualifications to serve as the Agriculture Department's chief scientist. Clovis is a self-described skeptic of climate change. Republicans were preparing to hold a hearing on his nomination next week. But it was revealed this week that Clovis had communications with George Papadopoulos, who has admitted to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian intermediaries last year.
In his letter, Clovis said the political climate in Washington "has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position," adding that "the relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day." White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: "We respect Mr. Clovis' decision to withdraw his nomination." Clovis was a professor of economics at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, before he joined the Trump campaign. If he'd been confirmed, Clovis would have overseen the department's nearly $3 billion investment in research and education grants.
(Read more Department of Agriculture