Kamala Harris comms director leaving in aftermath of reported Biden rift

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Kamala Harris comms director leaving in aftermath of reported Biden rift

Vice President Kamala Harris’ communications director is leaving her post as the veep’s office and White House battle tanking poll numbers and leaks detailing frustration among Harris allies. 

Vanity Fair was first to report the departure of Ashley Etienne, while multiple outlets cited a White House official in reporting that her resignation would take effect next month.

The official said that Etienne was leaving the administration to “pursue other opportunities,” but did not elaborate.

The departure of Etienne — a former Biden campaign adviser who has also been a spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — comes days after CNN reported that Harris has been increasingly sidelined in the administration and her working relationship with President Biden has become an “exhausted stalemate.” 

On Thursday, Harris attempted to dispel the report, denying to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that she felt, as the anchor put it, “misused or underused.” 

However, those close to Harris have suggested that the first woman and first woman of color to be vice president has been entrusted with politically detrimental issues — like the ongoing border crisis — and not received the level of support given to other members of the administration.

A White House official reportedly claimed Etienne is leaving to "pursue other opportunities."
A White House official reportedly claimed Etienne is leaving to “pursue other opportunities.”
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

“I’m very, very excited about the work that we have accomplished,” Harris told Stephanopoulos. “But I am also absolutely, absolutely clear-eyed that there is a lot more to do, and we’re gonna get it done.”

Throughout the week, the White House and vice president’s office have defended Harris, calling the report “gossip.” 

On Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki described Harris as a “valuable member of the team.”

“I know that the president relies on the vice president for her advice, for her counsel,” Psaki said, adding. “She’s not looking for a cushy role here — no vice president is, no president is.”

Harris spokeswoman Symone Sanders has dismissed the report as “gossip.”

The departure comes in the aftermath of reports that there is a rift between Biden and Harris as both of their approval ratings hav dropped.
The departure comes in the aftermath of reports that there is a rift between Biden and Harris as both of their approval ratings have dropped.
Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

“It is unfortunate that after a productive trip to France in which we reaffirmed our relationship with America’s oldest ally and demonstrated US leadership on the world stage, and following passage of a historic, bipartisan infrastructure bill that will create jobs and strengthen our communities, some in the media are focused on gossip — not on the results that the president and the vice president have delivered,” Sanders said Sunday night.

Meanwhile, polling indicates that Harris is even less popular than the unpopular Biden. A recent USA Today/Suffolk University poll showed Biden with an approval rating of 37.8 percent. However, Harris’ approval rating was 10 points lower, at 27.8 percent.

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