Vice President Mike Pence’s new national security aide reportedly stepped down just two days after his appointment.
According to a White House official, the abrupt departure of Jon Lerner was caused due to an internal riff at the White House, which is notorious for officials regularly getting axed and stepping down from positions in the administration.
Pence’s office had announced on Friday that Lerner, who worked as a deputy for U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, will advise Pence on the matters of foreign policy. Two days later, a contradicting statement by the same office states Lerner has withdrawn from the position he held for mere two days.
Lerner’s departure was imminent after his appointment made headlines while his new (now former) boss, Pence was on his way to Peru to attend the Summit of the Americas.
President Donald Trump had learned that Lerner was a “Never-Trumper,” a term used for Republicans who do not support Trump. Turned out, Lerner had supported Republican Sen. Marco Rubio during the primary race for the Republican Party’s pick for the 2016 presidential candidacy. Lerner was also center stage in airing anti-Trump ads for Club for Growth's multimillion-dollar anti-Trump campaign in favor of Rubio.
Pence had to call the president to clear the air.
However, a report by Axios said had the now-former aide did not entirely voluntarily depart; the president had already asked Chief Of staff John Kelly to “get rid of Lerner.”
“Why would Mike do that?” the president wondered, to the White House officials who were reportedly taken by surprise after the news of Lerner’s appointment broke, considering his anti-Trump history. This was the first time Trump had tried to block an appointment made by Pence, who is usually given a free hand by Trump regarding personal appointments.
Axios' sources claimed the drama was too much for Lerner, who sought to bow down from the job to avoid further conflict.
“Jon does not want to be a distraction. He’s done incredible work with Nikki Haley and it’s important to our country that this work continues,” the source said.
Pence’s secretary Alyssa Farah released an official statement regarding the Lerner’s withdrawal: “Tonight Jon informed the vice president that he was withdrawing from coming on board as national security advisor. Vice President Pence holds Jon Lerner in the highest regard and expressed his deep gratitude for Jon’s willingness to consider joining our team.”
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