Trump nominee Sam Clovis withdraws consideration for USDA post amid Russian Federation probe

  • Trump nominee Sam Clovis withdraws consideration for USDA post amid Russian Federation probe

Trump nominee Sam Clovis withdraws consideration for USDA post amid Russian Federation probe

Sam Clovis, a former top campaign official for Donald Trump who urged George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser, to meet with Russian officials during the campaign, withdrew his nomination on Thursday to an Agriculture Department post, the Associated Press reported. In reality, the group met only once or twice and didn't really function.

Still, Sessions' defense of the Comey firing - and his insistence that it stemmed from the handling of the Hillary Clinton email case - was consistent with the initial explanation by the White House.

"He didn't say yes and he didn't say no", the official said, declining to be more specific about Trump's response to Papadopoulos.

The circumstances of Comey's firing are among many events being investigated by Robert Mueller, who was appointed as the Justice Department's special counsel to look into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian Federation to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. In August 2016, Clovis encouraged Papadopoulos to organize an "off the record" meeting with Russian officials, according to court documents. (Trump's right that Papadopoulos has now been proven to be a liar.) Furthermore, the email was included in an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent's affidavit supporting the criminal charges against Papadopoulos, but it's not mentioned in the court documents describing his guilty plea and cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

On Tuesday, Trump attempted to distance himself from Papadopoulos, accusing the former aide of being a liar.

President Donald Trump is tweeting that the "biggest story" out of the charges announced Monday in the Russian Federation investigation is the resignation of Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta from his eponymous firm.

The investigation, led by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, released its first indictments this week, charging former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, another campaign adviser, over money laundering and other alleged crimes related to their ties to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

Sessions replied: "I'm not aware of any of those activities".

"I'm not under investigation, as you know", Trump told a Times reporter in a phone call.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, said it makes sense to ask Sessions to clarify the chain of events and how he reconciles it with his testimony before the committee.

"I don't think anybody should be spiking the football on this", he said.

"Jeff Sessions was the head of the national security operation" in Trump's campaign, Senator Richard Blumenthal of CT, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview.

While Democrats made clear that the Papadopoulos revelations raise new questions about whether Sessions told the truth to Congress, there was little indication they'd pursue the politically and legally uncertain possibility that the nation's top law enforcement official could be prosecuted for perjury.

Sekulow says: "The president has not indicated to me or to anyone else that I work with that he has any intent on terminating Robert Mueller". "He has laid out his reasons in the attached letter", a spokesperson for Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in an email.

The Justice Department did not comment.