Fiery Remarks Leads Obama Adviser to Resign
File - Van Jones, an administration official specializing in environmentally friendly "green jobs," is seen at the National Summit in Detroit, in this June 16, 2009 file photo. The White House issued a statement early Sunday Sept. 6, 2009 saying Jones had
WILL LESTER | The Associated Press via YellowBrix
September 08, 2009
Van Jones “understood that he was going to get in the way” of President Barack Obama’s agenda, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Sunday.
The resignation was disclosed without advance notice by the White House in a dead-of-the-night e-mail on a holiday weekend. It came as Obama is working to regain his footing in the contentious health care debate.
Jones, who specialized in environmentally friendly “green jobs” with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, was linked to efforts suggesting a government role in the Sept. 11 attacks and to derogatory comments about Republicans.
Gibbs said Obama did not endorse Van Jones’ comments but thanked him for his service.
“What Van Jones decided was that the agenda of this president was bigger than any one individual,” Gibbs said on ABC’s "This Week.
Recent news reports cited a derogatory comment Jones made in the past about Republicans, and separately, of Jones’ name appearing on a petition connected to the events surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks. That 2004 petition had asked for congressional hearings and other investigations into whether high-level government officials had allowed the attacks to occur.
“On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me,” Jones said in his resignation statement. “They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.”
Obama’s top political adviser, David Axelrod, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Jones “showed his commitment to the cause of creating green jobs in this country by removing himself as an issue.”
Howard Dean, former head of the Democratic National Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that he thought Jones “was brought down and I think it’s too bad. Washington’s a tough place that way, and I think it’s a loss for the country.”
Dean, a former Vermont government and Democratic presidential candidate, added: “All of us campaigning for office have had people throw clipboards in front of our face and ask us to sign. And he learned the hard way you ought not to do that. But I don’t think he really thinks the government had anything to do with causing 9/11.”
Jones said he has been “inundated with calls from across the political spectrum urging me to stay and fight.” But he said he could not in good conscience ask his colleagues to spend time and energy defending or explaining his past.