Trump's pick for USDA science chief withdraws after being caught up in Mueller's Russia investigation
Sam Clovis (Screenshot/YouTube)

Sam Clovis, who had been nominated by President Donald Trump to be the chief scientist for the United States Department of Agriculture, has withdrawn from consideration after being caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Clovis, who was a major supporter of Trump and who worked on his 2016 presidential campaign, was nominated to be the USDA's chief scientist despite the fact that he has no science or academic credentials. As the Washington Post reported on Thursday, Clovis admitted during questions about his qualifications that he had never taken any graduate level courses in natural sciences.

In addition to his lack of qualifications to serve as the USDA's chief scientist, Clovis also became more controversial this week after getting caught up in the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence operatives in 2016.

Specifically, Clovis -- who was not named in the indictment but who was later identified as a key figure in subsequent reporting -- seems to have encouraged former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos to set up meetings between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

"Make the trip, if it is feasible," Clovis wrote in response to Papadopoulos' request to go to an overseas meeting with Russian officials.

In a statement announcing his withdrawal from consideration, Clovis complained that "the political climate has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration" for the USDA post.