Pres. Joe Biden has promised, “If we are ever working together and I hear you treating another person with disrespect, talking down to anyone, I promise you that I will fire you right there on the spot. Right then, on the spot — no if, ands or buts.”
Lander was not ousted, however. The White House “had difficulties throughout the day trying to explain why he had not been fired or quit.”
Inside the White House, there have been many staffers who were irate that Lander initially seemed to be keeping his job, arguing that there’s a double standard for males and those in higher positions of power. In conversations with employees on Monday, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because they had not been authorized to speak to the media, they stated that Joe Biden had set a clear standard in the workplace for what behavior wouldn’t be tolerated and that he should fire Eric Lander.
Instead, Lander has announced his resignation, which is effective no later than February 18, Monday evening.
“I am devastated that I have caused hurt to present and past colleagues by the way in which I have talked to them,” he wrote in a letter to Joe Biden. “It is clear that some of the things I have said, and the way in which I said them, crossed the line at times into being demeaning and disrespectful, to both males and females. That wasn’t ever my intention. Nonetheless, it is my responsibility and my fault. I will take this lesson and move forward. I think it is not possible for me to effectively continue working in my role, and the work of this office is much too important to be slowed.”
Eric Lander had been managing two initiatives of major importance to Joe Biden. One is a restart of the cancer moonshot, which Joe Biden led as VP during the Obama administration shortly after his 46-year-old son, Beau, passed away due to brain cancer in 2015.
The other is the proposed development of an advanced research agency to help propel breakthrough medical treatments for diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and other diseases that are life-threatening. The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health, chaired by Representative Anna G. Eshoo, is scheduled to hold a hearing on Tuesday to talk about the proposal; Eric Lander was scheduled to testify at the hearing, but his appearance is now canceled.