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Probe of Trump-Russia links get strong support, poll finds
February 22 2018, 04:20 | Irvin Gilbert
Pavel Golovkin AP
Moscow has always denied playing any role in the 2016 presidential election, and has portrayed the investigation into Russian interference as an attempt by US President Donald Trump's opponents to cover up for the election defeat of Hillary Clinton.
"Reasonably enough, the law requires that the USDA's chief scientist actually be a scientist", said CSPI president Dr. Peter G. Lurie.
"The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position", wrote Clovis, who now serves as USDA's senior White House adviser.
"The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day", he wrote.
"Given the importance of climate change to the future of USA agriculture, this comment alone should disqualify Mr. Clovis", the scientists said. He has since come under criticism for his lack of science credentials.
The White House says there are no plans to remove Mueller.
The undersecretary position has historically been filled by people with advanced degrees in science or medicine, The Washington Post reported.
Clovis, who now serves as the department's senior White House adviser, informed President Donald Trump of his decision in a letter dated Wednesday.
Peskov also says that connections between former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and a man he believed to have links to the Russian Foreign Ministry did not prove any complicity by the Russian government.
President Trump spoke to The New York Times today in response to news about his reaction to the Mueller investigation and the indictments this week.
Papadopoulos said he received the information in April 2016 that Russians had "dirt" on Clinton and thousands of emails - about three months before the WikiLeaks organization began releasing troves of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee, according to the court filing.
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 overseas.
Papadopoulos, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents about the nature and timing of his conversations with foreigners claiming to have high-level Russian connections.
Clovis' lawyer, Victoria Toensing, told The Post that Clovis was actually just "being polite" in his response to Papadopoulos, adding that the campaign had a "strict rule that no person could travel overseas as a representative of the campaign".
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Tuesday that Trump's campaign team provided the special counsel with emails involving Papadopoulos, and described it as a case of an individual doing the "wrong thing" while the campaign did the "right thing".
Gordon said Papadopoulos also offered to appear on the Sunday talk show circuit on behalf of Trump but was turned down.