Clovis appears before House panel amid Russia probe

Clovis appears before House panel amid Russia probe

Sam Clovis, a former Trump campaign official, appeared before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday for a closed-door meeting, two Democratic lawmakers confirmed.

His interview before the committee, which lasted more than four hours, comes as the panel continues to look into Russian interference during last year's presidential campaign.

Clovis, who had served as the Trump campaign's chief policy adviser, came under scrutiny in recent months after reports revealed that he had encouraged another campaign aide to set up a meeting with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.

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In November, Clovis withdrew his name from consideration for a top role at the U.S. Department of Agriculture after his name became tied to George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his contacts with Russians during the campaign.

His connection to Papadopoulos, who he reportedly recruited onto the foreign policy team, sent questions swirling about his own ties to Moscow.

The Washington Post reported in October that Clovis had encouraged Papadopoulos to accept an “off the record” meeting with Kremlin officials. 

“Make the trip, if it is feasible,” Clovis wrote in an August email to Papadopoulos.

Papadopoulos had also repeatedly offered to set up a meeting with Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the Post.

The White House has sought to distance the president from Papadopoulos. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has previously described his role in the campaign as "extremely limited." Trump had previously named Papadopoulos as one of his campaign's "consultants" in an interview last March.

Clovis’s attorney, Victoria Toensing, in a statement to the Post in October said Clovis has “always vigorously opposed any Russian trip for Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSasse: Trump shouldn't dignify Putin with Helsinki summit Top LGBT group projects message onto Presidential Palace in Helsinki ahead of Trump-Putin summit Hillary Clinton to Trump ahead of Putin summit: 'Do you know which team you play for?' MORE and/or the campaign.”

NBC reported in late October that special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigative team had interviewed Clovis as part of his separate Russia investigation.