When Donald Trump nominated Sam Clovis to be the Department of Agriculture’s top scientist, an obvious problem emerged: Sam Clovis isn’t a scientist. The USDA post manages research on everything from climate change to nutrition, and the president’s choice for the post seemed to have the wrong background.
As a Washington Post report put it in May, the nomination represented “a break with recent Republican and Democratic administrations alike, which have previously reserved the high-level position for scientists with expertise in agricultural research.”
But it as it turns out, this isn’t the end of the controversy. CNN reported yesterday:
Sam Clovis, Donald Trump’s pick to be chief scientist for the Department of Agriculture, has argued that homosexuality is a choice and that the sanctioning of same-sex marriage could lead to the legalization of pedophilia, a CNN KFile review of Clovis’ writings, radio broadcasts, and speeches has found.
Clovis made the comments between 2012 and 2014 in his capacity as a talk radio host, political activist, and briefly as a candidate for US Senate in Iowa.
There’s more where this came from. CNN also reported a couple of weeks ago that Clovis “maintained a now-defunct blog for years in which he accused progressives of ‘enslaving’ minorities, called black leaders ‘race traders,’ and labeled former President Barack Obama a ‘Maoist’ with ‘communist’ roots.”
Clovis also questioned Obama’s birth place, accused then-Attorney General Eric Holder of being “a racist black,” and said then-Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, who now heads the Democratic National Committee, was “a racist Latino.”
At least so far, none of this has derailed Clovis’ nomination, which is still pending in the Senate.
But while we wait to see what senators have to say about the Iowa Republican’s fate, let’s take a minute to note why his name might sound familiar.
Last year, Clovis was described as Trump’s “national policy adviser.” In other words, when the Republican candidate needed guidance on matters of public policy, Trump ostensibly turned to the guy who thinks sexual orientation is a choice and Barack Obama’s a “Maoist.”
Trump only hires “the best people,” you know.
Postscript: Because so many Trump-related stories seem to connect to the Russia scandal, it’s probably worth mentioning that Clovis, by one account, worked with Carter Page during the campaign.
A Washington Post report added in May, Clovis “had worked on Russia-related issues at the Pentagon in the 1980s and, as a candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa in 2014, had questioned the effectiveness of sanctions imposed after Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.”