On Thursday, ABC reported that the Trump administration had literally no idea that one of Trump’s top campaign advisers, his foreign policy chief Sam Clovis, had testified before the grand jury convened by Robert Mueller’s special counsel.
One imagines that it’s probably pretty worrisome for the administration since Clovis is the man who hired the now-infamous George Papadopoulos, the man who’s been acting as a “proactive cooperator” — or informant — for special counsel since July.
Thursday morning, Clovis withdrew his nomination for consideration to be the undersecretary at the US Department of Agriculture, something that had already been under strenuous opposition from Democrats since Donald Trump announced it earlier this summer. In Clovis’ previous career, he was a right-wing radio host who subscribed to conspiracy theories about 9/11, the Sandy Hook tragedy, and Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
Clovis is currently serving as Trump’s senior adviser for the Department of Agriculture, despite the fact that he has no science background whatsoever. There is no word as to whether he will remain in that position.
The withdrawal followed the revelation that Clovis was the “campaign supervisor” referenced by Papadopoulos in his guilty plea and cooperation agreement as an intermediary for communications with the Russian government.
Clovis appeared to encourage Papadopoulos to engage with Russian contacts; in one instance Clovis responded directly to Papadopoulos, hailing him for his “great work” and saying “I would encourage you” to “make the trip, if it is feasible”, referring to a trip the young campaign adviser pitched to go abroad.
Whether the White House will elect to attempt to paint Clovis as a low-level campaign participant, as they have attempted to do with first Paul Manafort and subsequently with Mr. Papadopoulos, is yet to be seen.
It certainly wouldn’t surprise anyone in the slightest, however.
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