Vice President Kamala Harris loses communications director Ashley Etienne. The former adviser to senior Democratic officials is leaving the White House after reports of tensions between the vice president and President Joe Biden.
Etienne is “Leave the office in December to pursue other opportunities”, a White House official told CNN on Thursday. She came to Biden’s campaign vice president’s team, where she was a senior advisor. Her previous experience included working for President Barack Obama and the current Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi (D-California), during her time as Minority Leader.
Officially, Etienne’s departure was expected at the end of the year anyway. However, this comes after what Vanity Fair described as “a series of stories about infighting and low morale in the vice president’s office” this week, and polls showing Harris even less popular than Biden.
On Monday, CNN reported that the patience of West Wing aides, exasperated by “Entrenched dysfunction and lack of focus” of the VP staff, was starting to run out. Following a CNN report on alleged tensions between Biden and Harris’ aides, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klein and press secretary Jen Psaki both endorsed the vice president, Psaki claiming that Harris’s critiques were primarily motivated by racism and sexism.
Harris, a senator from California, herself tried to run for the Democratic nomination for 2020, but dropped out before the first primary amid a lackluster poll. She notoriously clashed with Biden over working with “segregationist” senators in one of the early debates, only to endorse it in March and be chosen as running mate in August.
Since becoming vice president, Harris has been given a number of tasks, from handling the influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border to leading Democrats’ efforts to nationalize the rules of the vote. A recent Suffolk / USA Today poll showed her at just 28% approval, ten points below Biden’s 38%.
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