It has been reported that President Joe Biden’s top science adviser Dr. Eric Lander resigned Monday, hours after the White House confirmed that an internal investigation found credible evidence that he mistreated his staff.
An internal review last year, prompted by a workplace complaint, found evidence that Lander, the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and science adviser to Biden, bullied staffers and treated them disrespectfully. The White House rebuked Lander over his treatment of his staff, but initially signaled Monday that he would be allowed to remain on the job, despite Biden’s day-one assertion that he expected “honesty and decency” from all who worked for his administration and would fire anyone who shows disrespect to others “on the spot.”
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But later Monday evening, press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden had accepted Lander’s resignation with “gratitude for his work at OTSP on the pandemic, the Cancer Moonshot, climate change, and other key priorities.”
Lander, in his resignation letter, said, “I am devastated that I caused hurt to past and present colleagues by the way in which I have spoken to them.”
“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,” he added.
It marks the first Cabinet-level departure of the Biden administration.
Earlier Monday, Psaki said senior administration officials had met with Lander about his actions and management of the office, but indicated he would be allowed to stay in the job, saying the administration was following a “process” to handle workplace complaints.
“Following the conclusion of the thorough investigation into these actions, senior White House officials conveyed directly to Dr. Lander that his behavior was inappropriate, and the corrective actions that were needed, which the White House will monitor for compliance moving forward,” she said.
Psaki added, “The president has been crystal clear with all of us about his high expectations of how he and his staff should be creating a respectful work environment.”
The White House said Lander and OSTP would be required to take certain corrective actions as part of the review. It also said the review did not find “credible evidence” of gender-based discrimination and that the reassignment of the staffer who filed the original complaint was “deemed appropriate.”