Eric Lander, Joe Biden’s top science adviser, resigned Monday on the tail of reports he “bullied and demeaned” his subordinates, making him the highest profile member of Biden’s government to exit the administration so far.
Lander, though, is far from the first person to quit team Biden over a bullying scandal. He may be the first member of the administration to quit because he was the one perpetrating the bullying, but many of Vice President Kamala Harris’ staff have already hit the exits, claiming that the vice president fosters a hostile workplace.
As a result, it appears that Joe Biden has a festering bullying problem in the White House.
As to Lander, he left his top science position this week after an internal review by the White House “found ‘credible evidence’ that Lander, the Office of Science and Technology Policy chief, bullied subordinates and treated his staff in a way that contradicts the administration’s workplace policy,” the Daily Mail reported on Monday.
According to the report, Lander routinely yelled at colleagues and demeaned them by deliberately forcing them to answer questions outside of their expertise until they were forced to admit they didn’t have an answer. One OSTP employee told investigators that Lander was so volatile that he had a “Jekyll and Hyde personality.”
With months of this behavior piling up and an investigation concluded, the science adviser finally released a resignation letter on Monday, saying, “I am devastated that I caused hurt to past and present colleagues by the way in which I have spoken to them.”
He went on to say that the job necessarily entails “challenging and criticizing” employees, but added, “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.”
He also said he accepted responsibility for the hostile atmosphere and felt “it is not possible to continue effectively” in his role.
Lander resignation letter —> pic.twitter.com/Yq3w8YXp8i
— Ken Thomas (@KThomasDC) February 8, 2022
“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,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday evening. “He knows that Dr. Lander will continue to make important contributions to the scientific community in the years ahead.”
“He knows that Dr. Lander will continue to make important contributions to the scientific community in the years ahead.” 2/3
— David Gura (@davidgura) February 8, 2022
The loss of his White House job is not the only punishment Lander experienced this week. He was also disinvited from the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science scheduled for next week.
The group blasted Lander, saying that “toxic behavioral issues still make their way into the STEM community where they stifle participation and innovation.”
NEW: American Association for the Advancement of Science disinvites Eric Lander from their annual meeting next week, per statement from CEO Sudip Parikh.
“we have decided to no longer feature Dr. Lander as a speaker at our meeting next week.” pic.twitter.com/vqQn5NeUXd
— Alex Thompson (@AlexThomp) February 7, 2022
Biden does not escape this incident unscathed. After pledging on day one that he would immediately fire anyone who was caught bullying people, he nonetheless refused to terminate Lander — even as the accusations of his toxic behavior mounted.
On Jan. 20, 2021, Biden pledged: “But I am not joking when I say this, 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.”
But joking or not, Biden’s pledge has been a joke. In Feb. 2021, for instance, he refused to fire his deputy press secretary for threatening a reporter, and this year Biden himself demeaned a reporter for asking a question about foreign policy. But that was mild compared to how he attacked a reporter, calling him a “stupid son of a b****,” only a few days later.
While Lander was the chief bully at the OSTP, another bully is lurking in Biden’s administration, and it is none other than his own vice president. As it happens, Kamala Harris’ behavior is so bad, a steady stream of staffers have quit her office in disgust.
Indeed, the resignations started early for Harris. Back in Nov. 2019 staffers were saying adios to Harris. One was State Operations Director Kelly Mehlenbacher who in 2019 expressed her frustration with Harris and quit even before the 2020 election was held.
The defections didn’t stop during the campaign, either.
Since she became Biden’s vice president, there has been a steady flow of Harris staffers heading for the exits. Just this month, Harris lost another staffer when Kate Childs Graham, Harris’ chief speechwriter, quit.
Other staffers Harris has lost since last summer include Director of Advance Karly Satkowiak, Deputy Director of Advance Gabrielle DeFranceschi, digital services director Rajan Kaur, Communications Director Ashley Etienne, and chief spokeswoman Symone Sanders.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.