1. Florida Politics

Trump nominee withdraws from consideration for Agriculture post

WASHINGTON — A former Trump campaign aide dropped out of the running Thursday for a senior position at the Department of Agriculture three days after his name was tied to a former campaign foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI over his contacts with Russia.

The campaign aide, Sam Clovis, told the president he decided to withdraw from consideration to be a top scientist at the Department of Agriculture, the White House said.

"The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position," Clovis wrote in a letter on Wednesday to Trump. Clovis' qualifications to be the chief scientist at the department have been questioned, as he is not a scientist himself. "The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day."

Clovis' request to drop out of consideration is the latest blow to the Trump administration that for months has been dogged by the special counsel investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Clovis, an early campaign adviser, has met with the special counsel's team.

On Monday, it was disclosed that Clovis discussed the Trump campaign's priorities for relations with Russia with the foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty last month to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to interviews and court papers.

Clovis was among the Trump campaign officials who knew that Papadopoulos was developing contacts in Moscow and trying to arrange a meeting for Trump in Russia.