It started as a story that didn’t make any sense. We learned on Friday that Vice President Mike Pence had hired Jon Lerner to serve as his national security adviser, despite the fact that Lerner is a Republican pollster with no national security experience, and despite the fact that Lerner already has a job he intended to keep as a deputy to U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
In other words, after “months of searching,” Pence found an unqualified national security adviser who’d split his time, working for the vice president while also working in an entirely different office, in an entirely different building.
Over the weekend, the convoluted story got a little worse with an Axios report that said Donald Trump had voiced his dissatisfaction with Pence’s choice.
Trump was furious when he learned Pence was bringing on Nikki Haley’s deputy Jon Lerner, according to three sources familiar with the events. The President believed Lerner was a card-carrying member of the “Never Trump” movement because Lerner crafted brutal attack ads for Club for Growth’s multimillion-dollar anti-Trump blitz during the Republican primaries.
“Why would Mike do that?” Trump wondered aloud about Pence’s decision, according to two sources briefed on the President’s private conversations.
The piece added that Trump told White House Chief of Staff John Kelly “to get rid of Lerner.”
This morning, the New York Times reported that Lerner has now quit the job he hadn’t yet begun, informing the vice president that he’s “withdrawing from coming on board.” He’ll remain a member of Haley’s team at the United Nations, however.
Let’s note for context that the far-right vice president doesn’t generally have a reputation for churning through staffers, but in his first year in national office, Pence has already parted ways with Chief of Staff Josh Pitcock, Press Secretary Marc Lotter, Chief Counsel Mark Paoletta, and Domestic Policy Director Daris Meeks. Now he’s also found, hired, and lost a national security adviser.
I guess my question for the vice president’s office is, who exactly was responsible for this months-long search? Is everyone in Trump World incompetent when it comes to personnel decisions?