Eric Lander, a top science adviser to President Biden who played a role in the White House COVID response, was found by an internal investigation to have bullied his subordinates and created a hostile work environment.
Lander, who held a cabinet-level position, was found to have engaged in “credible evidence of disrespectful interactions with staff.”
Politico reports that several employees, both current and former, said he had “repeatedly bullied and demeaned staffers” and that “some employees felt humiliated and disrespected.”
The review also noted that Lander was in violation of White House policies on conduct.
Despite the Biden administration standing by him, Lander has resigned.
Eric Lander, President Joe Biden’s top science adviser, bullied subordinates and created a hostile work environment, a White House investigation finds https://t.co/8SLukAPv1z
– Bloomberg (@business) February 7, 2022
Biden’s Science Adviser is a Bully
Eric Lander apologized for his behavior on Friday in an email to staff.
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“It’s my responsibility to set a respectful tone for our community,” he wrote. “It’s clear that I have not lived up to this responsibility.”
Lander insisted he was “deeply sorry” for his conduct and vowed to implement new policies to improve the office climate.
Lander’s behavior is not only a violation of conduct policies, they are a violation of President Biden’s first-day promise to the media, a day when journalists across the nation were celebrating a return to decency.
“I’m not joking when I say this: If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treat another with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot,” Biden said at the time .
“On the spot. No ifs, ands, or buts. ”
Despite his claim, Biden stood by Lander.
“[If] I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise I will fire you on the spot ”
– BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) January 20, 2021
White House Stood By Him, But Eric Lander Was Forced to Resign
Despite these policies on conduct, the White House initially stood by Biden’s top science adviser.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki instead insisted that those policies helped identify a problem and would help correct Lander’s behavior going forward.
“It is because of those comments that he (Biden) made early on, in part, that we put in place a safe and respectful workplace policy that was the mechanism for which this thorough investigation went forward,” she said.
But the disconnect was too obvious, and Lander announced his resignation Monday night.
“The President accepted Dr. Eric Lander’s resignation letter this evening with gratitude for his work at OSTP on 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 significant contributions to the scientific community in the years ahead. ”
– New York Post (@nypost) February 8, 2022
This marks the second time the President has failed to follow through on his promise to fire those who are disrespectful to others in his administration.
TJ Ducklo, Biden’s former deputy White House press secretary, told a female reporter“I will destroy you,” and reportedly made derogatory and misogynistic comments to her.
Ducklo was handed a one-week suspension rather than being fired ‘on the spot.’
He too, like Biden’s top science adviser, would eventually resign.
My statement on resigning from the White House. pic.twitter.com/3Jpiiv75vB
– TJ Ducklo (@TDucklo) February 14, 2021
President Biden himself seemed to be in violation of his own policy on conduct and respect late last month when he called Fox News reporter Peter Doocy a “stupid son of a bitch.”
Biden later called Doocy to “clear the air” and said his comments were “nothing personal,” encouraging him to “continue asking about different topics than the rest of the press corps.”
He declined to fire himself on the spot.