A top official in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has stepped down from his position amid a controversy over the agency’s handling of a video posted online showing him threatening a protester who was protesting against his remarks.
The video, posted last week on YouTube, showed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue speaking to a group of about a dozen activists in Iowa about their “political views.”
Perdue was filmed by a member of the group as he threatened to arrest them if they did not agree to his agenda.
Perdue was responding to a question about how he would handle the issue of whether to permit genetically modified crops to be planted in Iowa and other states if he is elected next year.
He said that he would take the “most conservative stance” but added that he didn’t believe “it was appropriate to be threatening to arrest someone who was peacefully demonstrating.”
The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the incident, and an Iowa spokesman said that Perdue would resign.
The Agriculture Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The resignation comes after a number of high-profile public statements by Perdue, including a speech he gave last year at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in which he accused protesters of “spreading misinformation and misinformation” about him and his administration.
Perse also faced calls from fellow Republicans for him to resign after he spoke about how his administration would take a “conservative approach” on animal welfare.
Perdue said that protesters had not taken the “right action” and were “overreacting.”
He also said that the protesters’ views “were not mine.”
The video was posted to YouTube last week, sparking widespread criticism.
A number of the protesters have said they would boycott the conference.
Peryear has defended his actions and the video, saying he had been given a “very strong briefing” on the issues.
He did not apologize for his words, saying that his words “didn’t reflect the views of my team.”
“I have not made any comments in any way that have offended anyone and certainly not those who were present during the protest,” Perdue told reporters in Des Moines on Tuesday.