Sam Clovis, a non-scientist picked by President Trump for the top science post in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, withdrew his name from consideration last week “amid revelations that he was among top officials on the Trump campaign … aware of efforts by foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos to broker a relationship between the campaign and Russian officials,” reports The Washington Post.

The newspaper continues:

Court documents … revealed that Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in early October to making false statement[s] to FBI investigators about his contacts with foreigners claiming to have high-level Russian connections. In August 2016, Clovis encouraged Papadopoulos to organize an “off the record” meeting with Russian officials, according to court documents. “I would encourage you” and another foreign policy adviser to the campaign to “make the trip, if it is feasible,” Clovis wrote. The meeting did not ultimately take place.

The Post adds in one of its articles: “The position for which Clovis was nominated has traditionally been held by individuals with advanced degrees in science or medicine.”

In his withdrawal letter to President Trump last week, Clovis wrote: “The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position. The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases with intensity each day.”

Clovis is a retired Air Force colonel, a former business professor and a former host of a right-wing radio talk show, and he graduated from the Air Force Academy with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He also holds an MBA degree and a doctorate in public administration.

Clovis, who already was a senior White House adviser on the Agriculture Department, will remain in that role.

He once alleged that homosexuality is a choice and that the legalization of LGBT activity could lead to the legalization of pedophilia. He does not accept the scientific consensus on global climate change and was decried as a choice for the USDA position given that he has no experience in the hard sciences, making him an “almost a comically bad nominee, even for this administration,” according to Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont. The New York Times reports:

Mr. Leahy, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which would have conducted Mr. Clovis’s nomination hearing, said he had planned to ask Mr. Clovis about Mr. Papadopoulos’s efforts to obtain stolen Democratic emails from the Russians.

Court documents unsealed on Monday [Oct. 30] said that Mr. Papadopoulos had been told of stolen emails, but he has not been accused of trying to obtain them.

“Mr. Clovis’s nomination was only withdrawn because that would certainly have been a topic during his upcoming testimony, under oath,” Mr. Leahy said.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the top Democrat on the Agriculture Committee, said she had “serious concerns” about Clovis’ nomination, and called his withdrawal a “victory for science.”

“From day one, it was clear to me that Sam Clovis was the wrong choice for our farmers and ranchers,” she said in a statement. “His lack of qualifications and long history of politically divisive statements were disqualifying, and the recent news surrounding his time as co-chair of the Trump campaign has raised even more questions.”

Clovis joined the Trump campaign in August 2015, after once alleging that Trump lacked “a moral center.”

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