- The White House is pushing back against reports of dysfunction within Vice President Kamala Harris’ office, per CNN.
- A recent Axios report said several administration officials described Harris’ office as a “s—show.”
- White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain on Friday deeply praised Harris’ performance so far.
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The White House has engaged in damage control in seeking to push back against reports of dysfunction within the office of Vice President Kamala Harris, according to five individuals who spoke with CNN.
Two individuals with close ties to Harris’ office told CNN that several staffers within her office are exasperated by what they view as “a dysfunctional operation” rife with internal conflict.
Some of the discontent is laid at the feet of Harris’ chief of staff, Tina Flournoy, according to the individuals.
An additional source said there were “challenges and struggles” in the office and knew of complaints about Flournoy, but refused to chalk it up to dysfunction or that the veteran Democratic strategist was to blame.
However, staffer discontent within Harris’ office was detailed in a recent Politico report, with the outlet speaking to 22 sources, including current and former vice presidential aides.
“People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment,” one source told Politico. “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—.”
In a statement to CNN, Sabrina Singh, the deputy press secretary to Harris, said the vice president is committed to her work.
“The Vice President and her office are focused on the Biden-Harris Administration’s agenda to build an economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down, to making sure racial equity is at the core of everything the Administration does, to combatting the existential threat of climate change, and to continue protecting the American people from the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday dismissed the reports, stressing the positive relationship between Biden and Harris.
“I will say that the vice president is an incredibly important partner to the President of the United States,” she said. “She has a challenging job, a hard job, and she has a great supportive team of people around her. But other than that, I’m not going to have any more comments on those reports.”
However, there are now ongoing conversations at the White House about ways “to better support Harris’ team,” a source told CNN.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain, a friend of Flournoy, released a statement to CNN defending Harris and her staff.
“Vice President Harris and her team are off to the fastest and strongest start of any Vice President I have seen,” he said. “She’s delivering for the American people on immigration, small business, voting rights, and economic growth. The President’s trust and confidence in her is obvious when you see them in the Oval Office together.”
Harris, who served as San Francisco District Attorney and California Attorney General before joining the Senate from 2017 to 2021, has been a steady presence alongside Biden during congressional negotiations over COVID-19 relief and infrastructure legislation.
However, she has also received blowback from her immigration efforts at the US-Mexico border, with over 50 House Republicans calling for Biden to remove her from the diplomatic assignment.
Harris and her staff have stressed that their diplomatic work is focused on Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. However, Republicans have sought to shift broader concerns about the border onto Harris, despite the administration emphasizing that she is not a “czar” in charge of managing the border.
A source with ties to the White House said that while there was a lot of work to be done, staffers were driven to fulfill the administration’s agenda.
“I think everybody is just feeling overwhelmed,” the source said. “But for the most part, people are focused on the mission.”