A newly picked national security aide to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stepped down on Sunday, merely two days after his appointment to the job, at the height of a drama played by President Donald Trump over naming of officials to his administration.
The withdrawal of Jon Lerner, a veteran strategist, was one of the more short-lived personnel moves in the current White House known for frequent personnel changes.
Pence's office had announced Friday that Lerner, a senior adviser to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, would become Pence's top adviser on foreign policy issues. By Sunday night, Pence's office abruptly issued a second statement saying that Lerner had withdrawn from the vice president's team.
"Tonight, Jon informed the vice president that he was withdrawing from coming on board as national security adviser, and the vice president accepted his decision," U.S. media reports quoted Alyssa Farah, the press secretary for Pence, as saying.
"Vice President Pence holds Jon Lerner in the highest regard and expressed his deep gratitude for Jon's willingness to consider joining our team," Farah was quoted as saying.
Reports said that Trump had been upset about the move for two main reasons. First, Lerner had backed Republican Senator Marco Rubio during the primary race to pick the party's candidate ahead of the 2016 presidential election. And second, Lerner may have been linked to extensive opposition research efforts against him.
Trump and Pence talked about Lerner by phone on Friday, reports said.
On Sunday, American news and information website Axios reported that Trump attempted to block Pence from hiring Lerner considering his "Never Trump" views, making the drama public.
Lerner then offered to step down to "minimize the amount of conflict and internal drama," according to reports.
After the drama, Lerner reportedly will continue working as an aide to Haley.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)