This is a small point in the larger Russia investigation. But in my science, I have found that small points that don’t seem to make sense can be important. I am not putting forth a theory here. I want to raise questions that I think reporters should be looking at. The overarching question is Who is Sam Clovis and how did he develop his contacts?
When Donald Trump announced his foreign policy advisors in March 2016, a great many of us said “Who?” The five people announced were Joseph E. Schmitz, Gen. Keith Kellogg, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos and Walid Phares. Three had policy experience. Two didn’t. None were obvious choices.
Page was off to Russia that June. He had meetings with at least one high-level official, although his answers to congressional committees on that subject are evasive. A few years earlier, two Russian agents attempted to recruit Page as an informant.
Papadopoulos was convicted of lying to the FBI earlier this year. His wife worked for Joseph Mifsud, who had Russian connections and a job that looks like a cover. Mifsud has disappeared.
Who recommended Page and Papadopoulos? Eventually it came out that Sam Clovis, the national co-chair of the Trump campaign, had brought them into the campaign.
Clovis was in the Air Force for 25 years, through 1996. For about a decade, he had several jobs with defense contractors. In 2005, he became a professor at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. He started hosting a radio talk show in 2010. In 2014, he ran for the post of Iowa State Treasurer. Rick Perry hired Clovis to chair his presidential campaign in Iowa. Clovis quit that campaign over not being paid his salary and endorsed Trump. He was made national co-chair of Trump’s campaign in August 2015. [This info from Wikipedia.]
Now we learn that Matthew Whitaker, appointed by Trump to be acting Attorney General, was campaign chair for Clovis’s bid for state treasurer, and, further, that Clovis counseled Whitaker to get a commentary gig on cable television to get Trump’s attention. It appears that Whitaker was counseling Trump on how to prosecute his political adversaries. He has maintained that there was “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia and has been a strong critic of the Mueller investigation.
Whitaker was Sessions’s chief of staff, a position that is usually out of the line for promotions. Sessions took him on under White House urging. He seens to have been angling for Sessions’s job all along.
Page and Papadopoulos had (have?) more and different types of connections to Russia than might be expected for foreign policy advisors to a presidential candidate. It’s not clear how either of them came into contact with Clovis. It would be good to know more about that. As an Iowa attorney and politiican, Whitaker’s relationship to Clovis is more obvious. But why has Clovis been influential in placing people in the Trump administration? Why was the relatively obscure Clovis chosen as co-chair for Trump’s campaign? And we still need to know more about Page’s and Papadopoulos’s Russian connections.
Cross-posted at Balloon Juice.