11.01.17

Ranking Member Stabenow Asks Clovis about his Involvement in the Russia Investigation

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry, wrote Sam Clovis, Trump Administration nominee for Agriculture Under Secretary of Research, Education, and Economics, to ask additional questions regarding his actions as co-Chairman of the Trump Campaign.

The letter comes after new information surfaced this week from criminal filings that were released against former Trump Campaign officials. This raised a number of questions regarding the extent of Clovis’ involvement with the campaign’s interactions with Russia as a “Campaign Supervisor.” Yesterday, Stabenow issued the following statement in response to the new reports:

“From early on, I have strongly opposed the nomination of Sam Clovis to be the Chief Scientist at USDA. The emerging information about his role in the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia raises serious concerns. As we consider his nomination, I will be looking into these facts, along with his questionable qualifications and long history of divisive and outrageous statements.”

The full text of the letter is below. A PDF of the letter is available here.

November 1, 2017

 

Samuel Clovis

Senior White House Advisor

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20250                                           

 

           

Dear Dr. Clovis,

 

As the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry considers your nomination, I write to follow up on questions regarding your activities as co-Chairman of the Trump Campaign given new information that surfaced this week in the criminal filings against former Trump Campaign officials George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort, and Rick Gates. 

 

The Statement of the Offense filed by the Special Counsel’s office, in which Mr. Papadopoulos pleads guilty to making false statements and omissions regarding campaign matters during an interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, raises a number of questions regarding the extent of your involvement with Mr. Papadopoulos as his “Campaign Supervisor.”[1] As part of the Senate’s advice and consent function with respect to your nomination, we ask that you please respond to the following questions by Monday, November 6, 2017:

 

  1. According to the United States v. Papadopoulos, on or about August 15, 2016, an individual identified as the “Campaign Supervisor” told Mr. Papadopoulos in discussions involving arranging an “off the record” meeting with Russian officials that “I would encourage you” and another foreign policy advisor to the campaign “to make the trip [], if it is feasible.”[2] Your attorney, Victoria Toensing, confirmed to the Washington Post that you are the “Campaign Supervisor” in the information.[3] 

    a. Why did you encourage Mr. Papadopoulos “to make the trip” to meet with these Russian officials? 

    b. Did you have any other discussions or communications during the campaign with Trump campaign officials, affiliates, or staff regarding communications with Russian nationals or officials?

    2. According to United States v. Papadopoulos, on or about March 24, 2016, a Russian national, who Mr. Papadopoulos believed was a niece of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had discussed with Mr. Papadopoulos facilitating a meeting “between us and Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.”[4] After Mr. Papadopoulos emailed campaign officials about this offer, you responded that you would “work it through the campaign” and then complimented him on “great work.”[5] 

    a. In what manner, and with whom, did you “work it through the campaign”? What was the result of these efforts?

    b. Why did you tell Mr. Papadopoulos that his efforts to facilitate meetings with Russian leadership “to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump” was “great work”?  Did calling it “great work” signify that it was a goal of the campaign to set up meetings with Russians outside official channels? 

    c. Did you have any other discussions or communications during the campaign with Trump campaign officials, affiliates, or staff regarding meetings with Russian nationals or officials?

    3. It has been reported that you have been contacted and interviewed by the Special Counsel as part of its investigation. Is this true? If so, have you cooperated with these inquiries?

 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

 

Sincerely,

 

Debbie Stabenow

Ranking Member

 

 



[1] Statement of the Offense, United States vs. Papadopoulos, No. 17-182 (RDM) (D.D.C. Oct. 5, 2017).

[2] Statement of the Offense at 9.

[3] Rosalind S. Helderman, Who’s who in the George Papadopoulos court documents, Washington Post (Oct. 31, 2017).

[4] Statement of the Offense at 4.

[5] Id.