Speed Reads


Trump's nominee for the USDA's top scientist admits he has no science experience

Update 11:04 a.m. ET: Sam Clovis has withdrawn his nomination for chief scientist of the Department of Agriculture, The Associated Press reports. Our original post appears below.

President Trump's nominee for chief scientist of the Department of Agriculture, Sam Clovis, might know all about science fiction, but his open acknowledgement of a lack of hard science credentials has left many wondering how he is possibly in consideration for a job with the word "scientist" literally in the title, The Washington Post reports.

Appointees to the chief scientist position are required to be "among distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics." Clovis has a bachelor's degree in political science and an MBA and doctorate in public administration. In a letter to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Clovis argued that he meets the job requirements simply by having run for state office in Iowa:

"Please list all graduate level courses you have taken in natural science," the second of [Stabenow's] 10 questions requested.

"None," Clovis replied.

"Please list all membership and leadership roles you have held within any agricultural scientific, agricultural education, or agricultural economic organizations," the third question read.

"None," Clovis replied.

"Please describe any awards, designations, or academic recognition you have received specifically related to agricultural science," the fourth question read.

"None," Clovis replied. [The Washington Post]

In another question, Clovis told Stabenow that his "specialized training or significant experience" in agriculture research came from the fact that "one cannot be a credible candidate in [Iowa] without significant agricultural experience and knowledge." Clovis' bid for Iowa state treasurer in 2014 was unsuccessful.

There could be even more problems afoot for Clovis, who was interviewed last week by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team. As the former national co-chair of Trump's campaign, Clovis was the supervisor of George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to making false statements to the FBI about his interactions with Russians. CNN reported Thursday that due to the probe, Clovis' nomination could soon be withdrawn.