White House was not aware Clovis testified before grand jury: report

The White House was reportedly unaware that one of its senior staffers had testified before a grand jury as part of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation into Russian election meddling.

ABC News reported Thursday that White House officials learned that Sam Clovis had met with the grand jury only after it was reported by the news media. He reportedly testified regarding his role in President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE's 2016 campaign.

Mueller's interest in Clovis was revealed this week after a former foreign policy adviser to Trump's campaign, George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosFlynn sentencing move spurs questions about duration of Mueller probe Time for sunshine on Trump-Russia investigation Trump to declassify controversial text messages, documents related to Russia probe MORE, pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about his interactions with a Kremlin-linked professor.

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Clovis, who currently serves as a senior White House adviser to the Department of Agriculture, was Papadopoulos's "campaign supervisor" on the Trump campaign, The Washington Post reported earlier this week. Clovis encouraged the young campaign adviser to engage with Russian contacts.

“The White House was surprised to learn Mr. Clovis had been contacted by the special counsel’s office as part of their separate probe of Mr. Papadopoulos’s activities," a source familiar with the probe told ABC News. 

Clovis on Thursday withdrew from consideration to be the Agriculture Department's chief scientist amid mounting controversy related to his links to the Russia investigation. He had also been criticized for his general lack of science credentials.