United Nations (U.N.) Deputy Ambassador Jon Lerner has deep ties to not only his longtime colleague and boss, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, but also Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the failed “Never Trump” movement, and the pro-mass immigration billionaire GOP mega-donors the Koch brothers.
Lerner, 49, withdrew from consideration to become Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser after news broke that President Trump was reportedly livid that a key member of the Never Trump movement would be joining his White House.
Still, Lerner has squeezed his way into the administration he avidly fought against despite having no foreign policy experience, with a source telling the New York Times that the consultant will informally advise the White House on national security.
Nikki Haley and Never Trump Ties
Nikki Haley first hired Lerner for her successful gubernatorial campaign in South Carolina. Then, after winning the South Carolina governorship, Haley kept Lerner around as one of her senior strategists.
Haley endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the 2016 GOP presidential primary and infamously indirectly attacked Trump’s “America First” agenda in her 2016 State of the Union response while Lerner was advising her.
— Mike Pence (@mike_pence) January 5, 2017
Though Haley was operating her own, more discreet Never Trump strategy in 2016, Lerner was also running a Never Trump operation for the Koch brothers-aligned “Club for Growth” organization.
The Koch brothers, as Breitbart News reported, oppose Trump’s pro-American immigration agenda and have most recently pushed a campaign for amnesty for millions of illegal aliens. The Club for Growth opposes Trump’s fair trade agenda, instead favoring multinational free trade, which has led to massive job loss for American workers.
During the 2016 presidential race, Lerner — while working for Haley — aided the Club for Growth in pushing the pro-Rubio, anti-Trump operation. In early 2016, at the height of the GOP primary, POLITICO noted Club for Growth’s staunch Never Trump campaign:
Throughout the summer and fall, Club for Growth experimented with modest TV ad buys against Trump in early primary states. But last month, during a meeting of the group’s top donors, discussions intensified. There was frustration, said one person present at the gathering, that more groups had not done more to take on Trump. There was also talk about what another anti-Trump offensive would look like, and what states made most sense to focus on.
In addition to its $1.5 million Florida offensive, the Club for Growth has launched a roughly $2 million TV blitz against Trump in Illinois, another delegate rich state that votes on March 15. [Emphasis added]
Lerner’s polling firm, Basswood Research, was conducting polls for the Club for Growth that pushed the same anti-Trump agenda during the GOP primary, as Breitbart News reported at the time.
Trump, in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, called the Club for Growth a “pack of thieves.”
“They [the Club for Growth] came to my office looking for money. I turned them down. That’s why they’re after me,” Trump told Breitbart News.
Mark Zuckerberg and Open Borders Lobby Ties
Before being hand-picked by Haley to join her in the Trump administration, Lerner helped create and launch Mark Zuckerberg’s open borders lobbying group, FWD.us.
Zuckerberg’s FWD.us, as Breitbart News has chronicled, serves as an open borders lobbying group for Silicon Valley’s tech conglomerates. FWD.us is a pro-amnesty, pro-foreign labor organization funded by the elites of Silicon Valley – including Zuckerberg, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
The group opposes Trump’s wage-boosting, immigration-reducing agenda, instead demanding the continued flow of mass immigration whereby more than 1.5 million illegal and legal immigrants are admitted to the U.S. every year.
Key to FWD.us’s mission is importing more foreign workers to take coveted, high-paying, white-collar American jobs. In November 2017, Breitbart News reported how FWD.us brought illegal aliens to Washington, D.C. to lobby lawmakers on supporting an amnesty that would likely result in the 12 to 30 million illegal aliens living in the U.S. being allowed to permanently stay in the country.
Lerner worked alongside a number of other members of the permanent consultant class to help launch Zuckerberg’s open borders organization, including former Bill Clinton staffer Joe Lockhart and Republican strategist Rob Jesmer.
In July 2016, while still working for Haley and the Club for Growth, Lerner was railing against Trump’s popular pro-American immigration agenda, wherein the president called for reducing legal immigration to boost American workers’ wages.
Like his time with the Club for Growth, Lerner’s tenure with Zuckerberg’s open borders group was spent conducting polls that claimed Trump’s staunch fight against illegal and mass immigration was unpopular with Republican voters.
CNet reported at the time:
Jon Lerner, of Republican polling organization Basswood Research, acknowledged that anti-immigration rhetoric worked in Trump’s favor during much of his campaign season. But he thinks that time has passed.
“Trump got mileage to date out of his position [on immigration] but that mileage is quickly running out and the electorate he has to appeal to now is very different,” Lerner said in a press call.
Lerner has played a key role in foreign policy under Haley, despite his having a thin foreign policy resume. He reportedly helped draft a speech delivered by Haley in Washington, D.C. in September, laying out what was seen as the case for leaving the Iran nuclear deal.
Yet, shortly after Trump declined to certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 Iran deal — Obama’s signature foreign policy goal – Haley said the U.S. hoped to stay in the deal.
“What we hope is that we can improve the situation,” she told NBC’s Meet the Press in October. “And that’s the goal. So I think right now, we’re in the deal to see how we can make it better. And that’s the goal. It’s not that we’re getting out of the deal. We’re just trying to make the situation better so that the American people feel safer.”
There are other signs of Haley being out of step. From the beginning of the administration, Haley has taken a hawkish stance towards Russia, surprising some of Trump’s critics, but Trump’s praise of Haley batted down any suggestion of a disconnect.
However, cracks showed on Monday after the president learned of Lerner’s appointment and after Haley announced the U.S. would be imposing new sanctions on Russia. The White House quickly walked back that announcement, with the president still considering the move.
According to Bloomberg, Lerner’s foreign policy bona fides are less important than his loyalty. He was described as Haley’s “eyes and ears on the ground” in Washington, D.C., in a piece profiling him in September.
Haley has also taken a more hawkish stance than Trump on Syria, arguing for regime change. Last year, she told CNN, “We don’t see a peaceful Syria with Assad in there,” and said regime change was inevitable.
She reportedly called for a more forceful response than last week’s strikes against Syria’s chemical weapons facilities, which Defense Secretary Jim Mattis feared would spark a wider conflict.
Last year, Rubio told Bloomberg that Lerner’s work is reflected in Haley’s performance.
“Jon’s doing a great job and I think that’s reflected in the work Nikki is doing,” Rubio said. “She’s got a real good team and I think it shows in the end result. Jon is certainly a big part of that.”