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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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Trump's next guest: Angela Merkel — 🇰🇵 Otto Warmbier's family is suing North Korea — ⚖️ Cosby found guilty in sexual assault trial — 🌎 Pompeo confirmed as Secretary of State

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Dave Lawler 1 hour ago
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Trump's next guest: Merkel follows Macron

Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive in Washington tomorrow a diminished figure — limping into her fourth term after six months of torturous coalition talks and touching down in the afterglow of Emmanuel Macron’s state visit.

Flashback: Days after Trump’s election in November 2016, Barack Obama flew to Germany and hailed Merkel — then TIME’s reigning Person of the Year — as “my closest international partner these last eight years.” Headlines declared that she had, however reluctantly, become the "leader of the free world."