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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.”

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use"

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

The CDC is urging “universal face mask use” for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, citing recent case spikes as the U.S. has entered a phase of “high-level transmission” before winter officially begins.

Why it matters: Daily COVID-related deaths across the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday. Face coverings have been shown to increase protection of the wearer and those around them, despite some Americans' reluctance to use them.

3 hours ago - World

Saudi Arabia and Qatar near deal to end standoff, sources say

Qatar's prime minister (R) attends the 2019 Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are close to a deal to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf following U.S.-mediated reconciliation talks this week, sources familiar with the talks tell me.

Why it matters: Restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf after a 3.5 year standoff. It could also notch a last-minute achievement for the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.