The White House Science Advisor resigns after internal investigations reveal he bullied staffers

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FILE – Dr. Eric Lander speaks during an event at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Del. January 16, 2021. Lander has resigned after the White House confirmed that an internal investigation found credible evidence that he abused his staff. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, file)

(The Hill) – Eric Lander, President Biden‘s science adviser, resigned Monday night after an internal investigation uncovered evidence he had bullied subordinates.

In his resignation letter to Biden, Lander, who heads the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the White House, claimed responsibility for his actions and said he was “devastated” at having hurt colleagues.

“It’s clear that the things I’ve said and the way I’ve said them have sometimes crossed the line of being disrespectful and demeaning to both men and women. That was never my intention,” Lander wrote in the letter. “Nevertheless, it is my fault and my responsibility. I will continue this lesson.”

Lander said his resignation will take effect on February 18 to allow for an “orderly transfer.” The role is subject to confirmation by the Senate. It wasn’t immediately clear who would take over when Lander left.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden accepts Lander’s resignation.

“The President has received the letter of resignation from Dr. Eric Lander tonight with gratitude for his work at OSTP in addressing the pandemic, the Cancer Moonshot, climate change and other key priorities,” Psaki said in a statement. “He knows that Dr. Lander will continue to make important contributions to the scientific community in the years to come.”

Politico first reported Monday morning that an internal investigation found that Lander had been bullying and degrading subordinates, in violation of the White House’s own policies.

Lander emailed employees Friday apologizing for his behavior, reportedly after employees became aware of Politico’s coverage of the investigation.

Faced with questions about the damaging revelations, Psaki told reporters during a Monday afternoon briefing that Lander’s behavior was inappropriate and that White House officials had told him to change his behavior, but she gave no indication of any plans to sideline him to remove.

“Nothing about his behavior is acceptable to anyone here,” Psaki said.

The revelations came under particular scrutiny because Biden told staffers on his inauguration day last year that he would fire them “on the spot” if they disrespected other colleagues.

“I’m not kidding when I say this: if you ever work with me and I hear you’re disrespecting another colleague, talk down to someone, I promise I’ll fire you right now,” Biden said Time.

As director of OSTP, Lander was a top-level scientific advisor to Biden and was involved in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was also involved with the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, which Biden restarted just last week.

This is an evolving story. Check for updates again.

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