After Trump drama, new Pence national security aide steps down

WASHINGTON, April 15 (Reuters) - A new national security aide to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stepped down on Sunday, only two days after being officially named to the job, after a behind-the-scenes White House argument hit the headlines, a White House official said.

The appointment of Jon Lerner to Pence's team was one of the more short-lived personnel moves in a White House known for turbulent staff turnover and infighting, and the first to envelope the vice president, who works hard to stay out of the drama.

Pence's office had announced on Friday that Jon Lerner, a senior aide to United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, would become Pence's top adviser on foreign policy issues. By Sunday night, the vice president's office had issued a second statement that Lerner had withdrawn.

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Notable people who have been fired or resigned from Trump's administration
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Notable people who have been fired or resigned from Trump's administration

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks reportedly announced her resignation after testifying about her job and being required to tell "white lies."

(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

H.R. McMaster was replaced by John Bolton as national security advisor in March 2018.

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn announced his resignation in March 2018 after becoming a key architect of the 2017 tax overhaul 

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Sally Yates was fired from her post as acting attorney general when she refused to enforce President Trump's travel ban. 

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Michael Flynn resigned as national security adviser in February after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his interactions with Russian officials. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

President Trump announced David Shulkin was out as secretary of veterans affairs by sending a tweet announcing he had nominated his personal physican, Ronny Jackson, to replace him on March 28, 2018.

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Trump fired Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh amid White House leaks in April.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Files)

President Trump fired U.S. Attorney in Manhattan Preet Bharara in March.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in early May.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Mike Dubke resigned as White House communications director in late May.

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Walter Shaub, former Director of the United States Office of Government Ethics in Washington, DC resigned in July.

(Photo Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned in July.

(June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus resigned in July.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Former advisor to President Donald Trump Steve Bannon resigned in August.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Anthony Scaramucci, former White House communications director was fired in July after just 10 days on the job. 

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned in late September. 

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter arrives with U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. February 5, 2018. Picture taken February 5, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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The issue boiled over on Friday, when Pence and his senior staff were on an eight-hour flight to Peru to attend the Summit of the Americas.

President Donald Trump had been become upset, the White House official said, when he was told in error that Lerner was a so-called "Never Trumper" - a term that describes anti-Trump Republicans.

Lerner had backed Republican Senator Marco Rubio during the primary race to pick the party's candidate ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Pence phoned Trump and cleared up the tension, the official said. But the short-lived drama became public on Sunday in a report by Axios which said that Trump had initially told his chief of staff John Kelly to axe the appointment and questioned why Pence would have made the pick.

Lerner then offered to withdraw on Sunday night "to minimize the amount of conflict and internal drama," the White House official said, and Pence decided it was the best option.

Lerner will continue working for Haley, the official said. (Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Michael Perry)

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