President Joe Biden’s nominee to be the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Eric Lander, was previously exposed as having an apparent connection to the disgraced late financier Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted pedophile who died mysteriously in prison in 2019 while in custody for federal sex trafficking charges.
Lander attempted to explain that the reported connection to Epstein was not a connection at all — and his explanation was apparently sufficient for the U.S. Senate at his confirmation hearing, as he was confirmed to the Cabinet role in a vote Friday, Politico reported.
In addition to the concerns expressed by some senators over his exposed meetings with Epstein, which had occurred in 2012 — after Epstein had been accused and convicted of sex crimes — some senators also took issue with actions and statements Lander previously made that were deemed to be sexist and racist.
“Troubled” with “tremendous concern”
ABC News reported earlier in May that the nomination of Lander — who rose to fame as a scientist for his work decoding the human genome — had been advanced out of the Senate Commerce Committee despite the misgivings that some senators had expressed concerning his prior meetings with Epstein that were exposed by photographs of the event released in 2019.
Six Republicans on the committee voted against his nomination, including Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who called Lander’s revealed ties to Epstein to be of “tremendous concern.”
Nor was it just Republicans who took issue with the apparent connection to the convicted pedophile, as Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) also said that she was “troubled” by the meetings Lander had with Epstein.
Lander attempted to thoroughly disassociate himself with Epstein, who he described as an “abhorrent individual,” and explained that his two meetings with the man in 2012 were brief and were limited to science-related events with other people.
Connections denied, meetings explained
Axios reported in April that the confirmation of Lander had been delayed, in part, due to the questions senators had about his meetings with Epstein, among other things.
A spokesperson for the White House issued a statement at that time explaining that “Dr. Lander briefly met Epstein in spring 2012, at two events with multiple Harvard donors, faculty and others, and he correctly decided to have nothing to do with Epstein.”
The Washington Examiner reported in April that Lander previously denied any actual connections to Epstein in 2019 when photos emerged of the meetings, telling Buzzfeed News at the time that the meetings were an “informal sandwich lunch,” claiming he wasn’t aware of other guests who had been invited.
“I later learned about his more sordid history,” Lander reportedly said. “I’ve had no relationship with Epstein.”
Axios had noted that Epstein had previously claimed to have supported Lander’s scientific work through a foundation, an assertion Lander denied, and the Examiner found no evidence that Epstein or any of his foundations had ever made donations to the Broad Institute at Harvard University and MIT, which Lander founded.