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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 4 hours ago
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Macron's blunt postgame

Collage: Sarah Grillo/Axios; Photos: Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron said at a remarkably candid postgame for a small group of reporters last evening that his State Visit left him convinced President Trump will withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran, and that the U.S. president wants to create "a series of new Trump's deals."

His big takeaway: "[Y]our president is a dealmaker. You always have to understand the rationale of your counterpoint. He's a dealmaker. So he wants to find a deal and he wants to find a deal under his condition."