When Rachel Maddow said that “weird Russia stuff keeps following [newly-resigned Agriculture nominee Sam] Clovis around,” she’s not kidding.
“When the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that a Republican operative named Peter Smith who mounted an effort to contact foreign, specifically Russian government hackers, to try and get Hillary Clinton’s emails, Peter Smith claimed, somewhat famously now, he was working with Retired Gen. Mike Flynn” on the effort, Maddow said. However, Smith also claimed that he was working with Clovis, as well as Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon.
Clovis is also responsible for bringing Carter Page into the campaign’s universe. In the plea agreement that were unsealed this week for former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, it was revealed a “campaign supervisor” who told him “great work” on his ability “to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership.” That campaign supervisor was also Clovis. He even went so far as to encourage the now-infamous campaign adviser George Papadopoulos to move forward with setting up meetings with Russian officials, including those in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
While Clovis has removed his name for consideration in an appointment to the head Trump’s Agriculture Department, he still remains the White House’s liaison to that department. When asked to comment, the White House said that they had no idea that Clovis testified to the grand jury until they read it in the press this week. Maddow noted, that they also clearly don’t know whether or not Clovis sought immunity from prosecutors for his grand jury testimony.
Clovis was scheduled to testify before Congress next week for his confirmation hearing. The White House “yanked” the appointment, Maddow claimed, likely because it would give senators an opportunity to ask Clovis about his statements to special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury, his relationship to Papadopoulos and a slew of other questions about possible Russian collusion with the campaign.
Watch Maddow connect the dots between Clovis and Russia below, via MSNBC.