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White House: Top scientist resigns over treatment of staff

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s top science adviser Dr. Eric Lander resigned Monday, hours after the White House confirmed that an internal investigation found credible evidence that he mistreated his staff, marking the first Cabinet-level departure of the Biden administration.

An internal review last year, prompted by a workplace complaint, found evidence that Lander, the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and science adviser to Biden, bullied staffers and treated them disrespectfully. The White House rebuked Lander over his interactions with his staff, but initially signaled Monday that he would be allowed to remain on the job, despite Biden’s Inauguration Day assertion that he expected “honesty and decency” from all who worked for his administration and would fire anyone who shows disrespect to others “on the spot.”

But later Monday evening, press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden had accepted Lander’s resignation with “gratitude for his work at OTSP on the pandemic, the Cancer Moonshot, climate change, and other key priorities.”

Lander, in his resignation letter, said, “I am devastated that I caused hurt to past and present colleagues by the way in which I have spoken to them.”

“I believe it is not possible to continue effectively in my role, and the work of this office is far too important to be hindered,” he added.

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