Trump reportedly tried to block Pence pick for national security adviser
President Trump tried to block his vice president’s choice for national security adviser because the appointee had worked on “Never Trump” advertisements during the Republican primary race, according to a report on Sunday.
“Why would Mike do that,” Trump reacted on Friday after learning that Vice President Pence planned on naming Jon Lerner, who is the deputy to United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, to lead his foreign policy team, Axios reported.
The president believed Lerner, a longtime Republican strategist, was a card-carrying member of the “Never Trump” movement because he helped the conservative Club for Growth create ads as part of a multi-million dollar offensive against Trump during the GOP primaries.
Trump reached out to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and told him to block the move.
As the drama unfolded in the White House on Friday, Pence was traveling to Peru to attend the Summit of the Americas, the website reported.
The plan was for Lerner to split his time between Pence and Haley.
White House Counsel Don McGahn grew concerned about Lerner dividing his time between the two and other West Wingers questioned the appointment because Lerner’s strength was as a political strategist rather than as a foreign policy adviser.
And Kelly told colleagues in the White House that Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, who worked with Lerner and Haley before, never informed him about Lerner’s involvement in anti-Trump campaigns.
Pence’s team finally got wind of the controversy and after his plane landed, the vice president called Trump to plead Lerner’s case.
Trump then relented.