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Biden freshman year: Kamala Harris hit by staff exodus and controversies

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In her first year in office, Vice President Kamala Harris has witnessed a number of high-level staff departures – along with falling approval numbers and reports of frustration and discontent.

Harris has been hit with a turbulent first year, with particular questions raised about her handling of the US-Mexico border crisis after President Biden tasked her with diplomatic outreach to Central American countries.

At the same time, she struggled to keep staff on her team.


Harris’ communications director, Ashley Etienne, resigned in November to “pursue other opportunities.” It came after reports of exasperation between Harris’ office and Biden’s office amid lagging approval ratings for Harris.

CNN reported that the aides felt drained as she tackled menial tasks without White House cover and that White House staff “threw their hands” because of her “lack of focus.” “.

Shortly after Etienne’s departure, Symone Sanders announced that she would be leaving at the end of the year. Harris’ office said Sanders, a senior adviser and her chief spokeswoman, “will be missed.”


Vice President Kamala Harris speaks to members of the press as her senior spokesperson Symone Sanders looks on, June 14, 2021, in Greer, South Carolina.
(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“Symone served honorably for three years,” said White House official told Fox News. “First as a valued member of the President’s 2020 presidential campaign, then as a member of his transition team and now Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor/Chief Spokesperson to the Vice President.”

“I love Symone, and I can’t wait to see what she’s going to do next, and I know it’s been, you know, it’s been three years of a lot of jumping on and off planes and flying around the country , and she works really hard, and I can’t wait to see what she’s going to do next, and I mean that sincerely,” Harris told reporters at the time.

But the vice president declined to comment when pressed on whether Sanders’ departure was part of a major internal shakeup.

“Well, I told you how I feel about Symone. Next question,” Harris said.

In January, Vincent Evans, who served as the vice president’s deputy director of public engagement and intergovernmental affairs for nearly a year, left to become executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.

White House officials argue that the departure of several staffers does not mean Harris is a bad boss. In December, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House was used to seeing senior officials leave and described the job as “grueling” when pressed by officials. journalists on the working environment in the vice president’s office.

“Working on a presidential campaign…and working the first year of a White House is exciting and rewarding, but it’s also grueling and exhausting,” Psaki told reporters this week. “It’s all of those things at once.”

Meanwhile, those boarded also caused trouble for the beleaguered Veep. Jamal Simmons, Harris’s new communications director, apologized in January after a 2010 tweet resurfaced in which he asked why illegal immigrants appearing on TV weren’t caught by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Jamal Simmons in Los Angeles, California on February 20, 2020.

Jamal Simmons in Los Angeles, California on February 20, 2020.
(Robin L Marshall/Getty Images for BET)

In the tweet, Simmons said he “just saw 2 undocumented people talking on MSNBC. One law student and the other a protester.”

“Can someone explain why ICE isn’t picking them up?” He asked

He later clarified that he was not suggesting ICE arrest them: “It seems fair that you can go on TV and admit to breaking the law and not get arrested.”

“As a pundit for much of my career, I tweeted and talked a lot about public issues. At times I was sarcastic, unclear, or just plain missed the mark,” Simmons said in the statement.


“I sincerely apologize for offending those who care as much as I do about making America the best multi-ethnic, diverse democracy there is,” he said. “I know the role I take on is to represent the Biden-Harris administration, and I will do so with humility, sincerity and respect.”

At a press conference on the eve of the anniversary of his inauguration, President Biden unambiguously stated that Harris would be his running mate for re-election in 2024.

“She’s going to be my running mate — number one. And number two, I put her in charge. I think she’s doing a good job,” Biden said.