The nominee Vice President Mike Pence picked to serve as his national security adviser withdrew his name from the running on Sunday, following reports that President Trump opposed his candidacy.
The president sought to block Jon Lerner from entering the halls of the West Wing over what Trump viewed as past opposition to his candidacy, Axios reported Sunday.
“Tonight Jon informed the Vice President that he was withdrawing from coming on board as national security advisor and the Vice President accepted his decision,” Alyssa Farah, Pence’s press secretary, said in a statement.
Lerner, who currently works as a deputy for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, decided he did not want to dust up any drama, according to a source familiar with matter.
“Jon does not want to be a distraction. He’s done incredible work with Nikki Haley and it’s important to our country that this work continues,” the source said.
While Lerner will not become Pence’s national security adviser, he will continue to serve as an adviser to Pence’s national security team, according to the source, who described this decision as “the smartest and best path forward without inviting any unnecessary distraction.”
“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’s statement continues.
Lerner previously worked as an adviser to a PAC that supported Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) 2016 presidential campaign as well as a pollster for the conservative Club for Growth — which ran anti-Trump ads.
His past roles reportedly annoyed the president, who then asked his chief of staff John Kelly to block the nomination.
The withdrawal comes as John Bolton, Trump’s recently tapped national security adviser, is working to reshape the president’s national security team.