Several news organizations confirmed this week that Clovis, a Trump campaign adviser, was aware of efforts by foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos to build a relationship between the campaign and Russian officials. Papadopoulos pled guilty to lying to the FBI on Oct. 5.
“The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position,” Clovis wrote in his withdrawal letter. “I am grateful to Secretary Perdue and you for having the confidence in me to nominate me. I also wish to thank Senator Pat Roberts for being in my corner along with the other Republican members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. It saddens me that circumstances will not allow me to fulfill your, or their, expectations in that role.”
Clovis’ USDA nomination was controversial from the beginning since he had no scientific academic credentials, which is traditionally expected of the position. Clovis holds a bachelor’s degree in political science along with an MBA and Ph.D. in public administration. Since 2010, he has been a professor and conservative radio host in Iowa.
Although he will not be undersecretary, Clovis will stay on in a senior role at the USDA.