President Joe Biden’s top science adviser resigned on Monday after a White House investigation into his treatment of staff, CNN reports.
Eric Lander said Monday he will step down as the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
"We have assembled the most amazing set of people at OSTP, and we have together set out the most ambitious goals that this agency has ever attempted. I have sought to push myself and my colleagues to reach our shared goals — including at times challenging and criticizing," he said in his resignation letter.
"But 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."
Lander said that his resignation will be effective "no later than February 18 in order to permit an orderly transfer."
Biden did not ask for Lander’s resignation but he resigned after the situation became “untenable,” a source told CNN.
A two-month investigation found “credible evidence” that Lander was “bullying” toward then-general counsel Rachel Wallace, according to Politico.
The probe also found “credible evidence” that Lander had spoken “harshly and disrespectfully to colleagues in front of other colleagues.”
“The investigation found credible evidence of instances of multiple women having complained to other staff about negative interactions with Dr. Lander, where he spoke to them in a demeaning or abrasive way in front of other staff,” said White House official Christian Peele.
“I am deeply sorry for my conduct. I especially want to apologize to those of you who I treated poorly or were present at the time,” Lander said in a letter to colleagues. “It's my responsibility to set a respectful tone for our community. It's clear that I have not lived up to this responsibility. I have spoken to colleagues within OSTP in a disrespectful or demeaning way.”
WH tried to keep Lander:
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that Lander’s behavior was "inappropriate" and "corrective actions" were needed.
Psaki did not say whether Biden had reprimanded Lander but said the administration would monitor his “compliance” moving forward.
But Lander resigned before the end of the day.
"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. “He knows that Dr. Lander will continue to make important contributions to the scientific community in the years ahead."