Top Biden adviser resigns after bullying investigation
US President Joe Biden’s top science adviser has resigned after an investigation found he had bullied and demeaned several White House staffers and left women who worked with him “in tears.”
Dr. Eric Lander, who served as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and as science adviser to the president, resigned in a letter to Biden on Monday.
“I am devastated that I caused hurt to past and present colleagues by the way in which I have spoken to them,” Lander wrote, acknowledging, “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 believe it is not possible to continue effectively in my role, and the work of this office is far too important to be hindered,” the letter concluded.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced on Monday that the president had accepted Lander’s resignation letter and was grateful for “his work at OSTP on the pandemic,” cancer, and climate change.
“He knows that Dr. Lander will continue to make important contributions to the scientific community in the years ahead,” Psaki declared.
A two-month investigation into bullying accusations against Lander found “credible evidence” that he had spoken in a “demeaning or abrasive way” to several female staffers.
OSTP general counsel Rachel Wallace claimed Lander “retaliated against staff” who spoke up about his conduct, including by “calling them names, disparaging them, embarrassing them in front of their peers, laughing at them, shunning them, taking away their duties, and replacing them or driving them out of the agency.”
Women were “left in tears, traumatized, and feeling vulnerable and isolated” by Lander’s conduct, she alleged.
On his inauguration day, President Biden vowed to fire anyone “on the spot” if they “treat another colleague with disrespect” or “talk down to someone.”