An internal White House investigation reportedly found President Joe Biden’s top science adviser, Eric Lander, had throughout his White House tenure “disrespectful interactions” with colleagues that violated Biden’s workplace policy.
The “credible evidence” of Lander’s behavior violates Biden’s pledge that everyone working for the president would be treated with “decency and dignity,” Politico reported.
“If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treated another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise I will fire you on the spot. On the spot. No ifs, ands, or buts,” Biden promised last year. “Everybody, everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity”:
President Biden tells his appointees: "If you're 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. On the spot. No ifs, ands or buts." https://t.co/1LntlB7T7E pic.twitter.com/P2aUyzC6pJ
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 20, 2021
The “credible evidence” of Lander’s “disrespectful interactions with staff by Dr. Lander and OSTP [Office of Science and Technology Policy] leadership” includes bullying and demeaning subordinates, according to Christian Peele, the White House’s deputy director of OSTP management and administration for personnel.
Lander, a White House cabinet member who has been touted as a central figure in Biden’s failed attempt to shut down the virus, spoke “harshly and disrespectfully to colleagues in front of other colleagues,” Peele said in the recording Politico obtained.
“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,” Peele added.
“It’s my responsibility to set a respectful tone for our community. It’s clear that I have not lived up to this responsibility,” he said. “I have spoken to colleagues within OSTP in a disrespectful or demeaning way.”
On Tuesday, Lander is scheduled to testify before the House’s Health Subcommittee on biomedical research. It is unknown if Lander will hold his White House position at the time of the hearing with Biden’s promise to fire team members who violated workplace rules of conduct.
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