Last week, President Trump’s top pick for the post of chief scientist at the USDA, Sam Clovis dropped out of consideration amidst the increased scrutiny levied against former campaign associates Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos. Why? Because the senior White House adviser to the United States Department of Agriculture was implicated in a series of email correspondences with Papadopoulos regarding the latter’s repeated attempts to establish campaign connections with Russian officials. Now it seems Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s team has taken a new interest in what Clovis does (or doesn’t) know.
According to Reuters, two sources familiar with Mueller’s investigation say the team recently interviewed Clovis to specifically determine what — if anything — Trump knew about his campaign’s various attempts to establish ties with Russia, and when he knew it. “The ultimate question Mueller is after is whether candidate Trump and then President-elect Trump knew of the discussions going on with Russia, and who approved or even directed them,” said one, who added: “That is still just a question.” They describe Clovis as “another domino” who — along with Manafort, Gates and Papadopoulos — will lead them to the truth.
“The investigators now know what Papadopoulos was doing on the Russian front, which he initially tried to conceal, and who he told that to,” the second unnamed source told Reuters. “Now [they] want to know whether Clovis and others reported these activities and others related to Russia, and if so, to whom.” Candidate, nominee or President-elect Trump very well might not have been included in the same loop Clovis, Papadopoulos and others were a part of when it comes to Russia. Regardless, the Mueller probe is now apparently trying to determine who else knew, and when.