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Why a Biden Cabinet Member Just Resigned

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Dr. Eric Lander,  presidential science advisor and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, resigned Monday after an internal review found he bullied staff members in violating of the White House’s “safe and respectful workplace policy.”


President Biden has pledged, “If you are ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot. On the spot — no if, ands or buts.”

Landry wasn’t ousted, however. According to The Washington Post, the White House “struggled throughout the day to explain why he had not quit or been fired.”

Inside the White House, many staffers were irate that Lander initially appeared to be keeping his job, arguing that there is a double standard for men and those in positions of power. In conversations with staffers on Monday, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press, they said that Biden had set a clear standard for workplace behavior and that he should fire Lander. (WaPo)

Instead, Lander announced his resignation, effective no later than Feb. 18, Monday evening.

“I am devastated that I caused hurt to past and present colleagues by the way in which I have spoken to them,” he wrote in a letter to Biden. “It is clear that things I said, and the way I said them, crossed the line at times into being disrespectful and demeaning, to both men and women. That was never my intention. Nonetheless, it is my fault and my responsibility. I will take this lesson forward. I believe it is not possible to continue effectively in my role, and the work of this office is far too important to be hindered.”


Lander had been overseeing two initiatives of enormous importance to Biden. One is a reboot of the cancer moonshot, which Biden led as vice president during the Obama administration after his 46-year-old son, Beau, died of brain cancer in 2015.

The other is the proposed creation of an advanced research agency to propel breakthrough medical treatments for cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other life-threatening diseases. The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health, chaired by Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday to discuss the proposal; Lander had been scheduled to testify, but his appearance was canceled Monday. (WaPo)

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