Apr 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden's only unconfirmed Cabinet nominee delayed in part over Epstein meetings


Eric Lander. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden's nomination for Eric Lander to serve as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, a Cabinet-level position for the first time, has been delayed in part over a senator's questions about Lander's past meetings with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Politico reports.

Why it matters: Lander is Biden's only unconfirmed Cabinet nominee. While serving as a professor at Harvard in 2012, Lander met Epstein in what he told BuzzFeed News was "an informal sandwich lunch" to "talk science with various people."

  • Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) wants clarification on Lander's ties to Epstein, who died in an apparent suicide in 2019.
  • Lander told BuzzFeed in 2019 that he "had no relationship with Epstein" and that he learned about the financier's "more sordid history" after the meeting.

What they're saying: A White House spokesperson told Politico, "Dr. Lander briefly met Epstein in spring 2012, at two events with multiple Harvard donors, faculty and others, and he correctly decided to have nothing to do with Epstein."

  • Epstein claimed that his foundation had sponsored Lander's scientific work on one of his websites. A spokesperson for Lander denied the sponsorship, telling the New York Times: "Mr. Epstein appears to have made up lots of things, and this seems to be among them."

What to watch: Lander's confirmation hearing is slated for April 29.

Go deeper