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Incoming Pence staffer withdraws after report Trump tried to block him

Photo: Manuel Medir/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence's pick for his national security advisor, Jon Lerner, has decided against joining Pence's team. Lerner's decision comes after Axios reported earlier tonight that President Trump had attempted to block Lerner's appointment over his anti-Trump work for the Club for Growth during the 2016 campaign.

The reasoning: According to a source familiar with the deliberations, Lerner, who currently serves as UN Secretary Nikki Haley's deputy, sought to avoid drama: "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."

More from the source about the decision:

  • “Jon has been and will remain a trusted advisor to our team but will not formally join the VP as his NSA."
  • "The Vice President’s team has always conducted business without drama and agreed with Jon that we can continue to look upon Jon for advice without causing any distractions."
  • "This is the smartest and best path forward without inviting any unnecessary distraction."

The official word, from Pence's press secretary Alyssa Farah: “Tonight Jon informed the Vice President that he was withdrawing from coming on board as national security advisor. Vice President Pence holds Jon Lerner in the highest regard and expressed his deep gratitude for Jon’s willingness to consider joining our team.”

Axios 1 hour ago
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Mike Allen 1 hour ago
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Sneak peak at Amy Chozick's "Chasing Hillary"

Hillary Clinton at Donald Trump's inauguration.
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Exclusive scenes for Axios readers from a book out next Tuesday by N.Y. Times writer at large Amy Chozick, "Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling":

"At the election-eve rally in Philadelphia with Bruce Springsteen, Hillary joined Obama onstage. He crouched down a little to kick a step stool closer to her podium. 'When you’re president, it’s gonna be permanently there for you,' Obama whispered in her ear before kissing her cheek and exiting stage right."