Allies of Vice President Kamala Harris are making efforts to play damage control amid reports of White House infighting and staff complaints.
The comments in Harris’ defense come after various recent reports detail concerns of low morale among the vice president’s staff and White House personnel, as well as concerns of confidence in Harris to help carry Democrats into 2024.
Communication issues and distrust between aides and senior officials on Harris’ team, including her chief of staff Tina Flournoy, have contributed to a “tense and at times dour office atmosphere,” Politico reported, citing interviews with 22 current and former aides.
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But now aides are rushing to Flournoy’s and Harris’ defense in an effort to control the narrative.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain told Axios in a statement that Biden’s “trust and confidence” in Harris “is obvious when you see them in the Oval Office together.”
Biden senior adviser Cedric Richmond told the outlet called the circulating reports about Harris and her staff “a whisper campaign designed to sabotage her.”
“She has become a trusted and loyal adviser to the vice president and the administration,” Minyon Moore, longtime advisor to the Clintons, told The Hill. “She is smart, strategic and very hardworking. She understands the significance of this moment in history and the tremendous weight of being the first [female vice president].”
Harris’ senior advisor, Symone Sanders, and deputy chief of staff Michael Fuchs also defended the vice president and Flournoy in statements to Axios.
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“People are not fighting every day,” Sanders told the outlet. “There’s not consternation among aides. That is not true. … I hear that there are critics. Those who talk often do not know and those who know usually are not the ones talking.”
Fuchs called the reports “rumors,” saying they were “untrue,” according to Axios.
Other political aides who spoke to The Hill on the condition of anonymity praised the pair for their work.
“I don’t think people realize how tough it is to manage a demanding principal who doesn’t want to make mistakes and a young staff with very little executive branch experience. It’s still so early and she really needed someone with Tina’s experience to come in and guide the ship,” one longtime aide to President Biden told the outlet.
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The issues highlighted in reports this week were apparently exemplified during Harris’ recent trip to the border. Some of Harris’ aides and other Biden administration officials, including those responsible for booking her travel arrangements, were “left scrambling” by her decision earlier this month to travel to El Paso, according to Politico.
“People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment,” one person with knowledge of operations at Harris’ office told the outlet. “It’s not a healthy environment and people often feel mistreated. It’s not a place where people feel supported but a place where people feel treated like s–t.”
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Apparent concerns over Flournoy’s leadership were echoed in a report from CNBC. The outlet reported Harris’ chief of staff had “effectively shut out” some of the vice president’s allies in politics and business, including top donors.
Harris has faced intense scrutiny from GOP lawmakers regarding her role as the Biden administration’s point person on efforts to address an ongoing immigration crisis. Republicans had slammed the vice president for resisting calls to personally assess the situation at the border.