Top White House Aides Defend Veep Following Politico Hit Piece
After a piece in Politico published a story on Wednesday containing claims from unnamed sources that Vice President Kamala Harris’s office is a toxic work environment, President Joe Biden’s top White House lieutenants defended their boss’s heir apparent.
“In interviews, 22 current and former vice presidential aides, administration officials and associates of Harris and Biden described a tense and at times dour office atmosphere. Aides and allies said [Harris’s Chief of Staff Tina] Flournoy, in an apparent effort to protect Harris, has instead created an insular environment where ideas are ignored or met with harsh dismissals and decisions are dragged out. Often, they said, she refuses to take responsibility for delicate issues and blames staffers for the negative results that ensue,” the report alleged.
“While much of the ire is aimed at Harris’ chief, two administration officials said the VP herself also bears responsibility for the way her office is run. ‘It all starts at the top,’ said one of the administration officials, who like others requested anonymity to be able to speak candidly about a sensitive matter,” Politico reported.
On Thursday, however, members of the Biden-Harris team fired back, telling Axios that Harris is a good boss who enjoys Biden’s full confidence and that anonymous reports should be taken with a grain of salt.
“The President’s trust and confidence in her is obvious when you see them in the Oval Office together.” Biden senior adviser Cedric Richmond said in an interview. “It’s a whisper campaign designed to sabotage her.”
Meanwhile, Ron Klain, Biden’s chief of staff, said that Harris is “off to the fastest and strongest start of any Vice President I have seen,” and that “her talents and determination have made a huge difference” in executing the administration’s policies.
“She’s delivering for the American people on immigration, small business, voting rights, and economic growth,” Klain said. “The results speak for themselves: a decline of border arrivals from the Northern Triangle, improved vaccine equity, and increased economic opportunities for women.”
White House Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond told Axios that Harris is a “staunch advocate for the Biden-Harris agenda” and that he has not received any negative feedback from people working in Harris’s office.
“You can’t hold the vice president’s team to that standard,” Richmond said, referring to the vibe within the president’s inner orbit. “But I think they’re good, I think they’re busting their tails and I think the VP is executing all her assignments and taking on her issues.”
Richmond stressed that “at some point it just becomes, one person says something long enough and it becomes an urban legend. It doesn’t have to be credible. It doesn’t have to be real. Someone says something and it can just snowball,” adding that he finds the fact that no one offered to use their name to be a bit sketchy.
“Not one named person. That’s what bothers me most,” Richmond said. “We’re in a day where the stakes are high. You’d just hope if there’s a legitimate criticism they’d put their name next to it.”