Harris’ main spokeswoman, Symone Sanders, is leaving the White House.
According to a source familiar with the decision, Symone Sanders, Vice President Kamala Harris’ main spokeswoman and senior advisor, will leave the Biden administration at the end of the year.
The source told CNN, “Symone has served honourably for three years.” “Symone’s dedication and advocacy for the White House has been appreciated by the President and Vice President. She is a wonderful team member who will be sorely missed. We are fortunate to have her on board till the end of the year.”
Sanders praised Harris chief of staff Tina Flournoy in a letter to her employees posted with CNN on Wednesday, in which she confirmed her departure.
“I’m very thankful to the Vice President for her vote of confidence from the start and the chance to explore what can be done without the baggage of the past,” the letter added. “Tina’s leadership, as well as her confidence, are both appreciated. Every day, I came to the White House complex knowing that our efforts were making a real impact in the lives of Americans. I appreciate all she has done for me and will miss working with her and with all of you.”
Her resignation will be the second among Harris’ senior communication team to leave in recent weeks. Ashley Etienne, the vice president’s communications director, left the White House this month to seek “other possibilities,” according to a White House official.
Each retirement came after a slew of headlines, including one from CNN, about employee infighting and dysfunction. Nonetheless, the source denied that Sanders’ departure was due to accusations of infighting, claiming that it was the correct moment for her to go.
According to a second person familiar with the situation, Harris has known about Sanders’ impending departure for some time.
In an interview with CNN on Wednesday night, Anita Dunn, a former senior Biden staffer, complimented Sanders as “an outstanding talent.”
“For the last three years, Symone has been working for Joe Biden at the highest levels and in a very demanding atmosphere. Now it’s time for Vice President Harris to speak out “Dunn said. “Nobody can argue with her choice that she needs a vacation and it’s time to move on after three years, two on the campaign trail and one in the White House. And she’ll always be a Biden-Harris family member.”
Sanders, a 31-year-old African American political strategist, came to the White House after serving as a senior advisor on Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. Prior to joining Biden’s campaign, she worked for CNN as a political commentator and was the national press secretary for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.
Sanders’ stint as vice president helped guide messaging for Harris, who has been burdened with a difficult portfolio, according to aides and supporters. Harris, who has been hampered by communications issues since her aborted presidential campaign, has publicly botched the White House’s message throughout her tenure as vice president, adding another dimension to Sanders’ attempts.
In February, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin voiced displeasure with a television appearance Harris had in his home state to promote the American Rescue Plan, alleging that the administration failed to notify him.
Harris had to deal with the fallout from her response about why she had not visited the US-Mexico border as vice president during her first foreign trip. Harris, who heads diplomatic efforts to stem migration from the Northern Triangle, had to deal with the fallout from her response about why she had not visited the US-Mexico border as vice president at the time.
And, after allegations of turmoil within Harris’ team, the White House had to go into damage control mode during the summer.
Harris made the border remark during an interview after attending a wide-ranging media training session to enhance her delivery and presentation in interviews and speeches. According to numerous accounts, such instruction was one of many sessions held during the previous year.
The vice president’s office also tried to control the consequences from Harris’ lack of response in a conversation with a student who described Israel’s conduct against Palestinians as “ethnic cleansing and displacement of people” in September.
According to the White House, the vice president’s office has recruited two communications veterans, Lorraine Voles, a crisis communications expert, and Adam Frankel, a former Obama speechwriter, to work on “organisational growth, strategic communications, and long-term planning.”
Sanders has already stated her desire to run for president, writing in her 2020 book, “No, You Shut Up,” that she wanted to be president. “I aspire to be the White House press secretary one day.”
Sanders’ buddy Bakari Sellers told the Washington Post this spring that the decision to choose Jen Psaki as White House press secretary “stung” Sanders, and that being passed over “damaged” him.
Other departures are expected to be seen by Harris’ team in the future.
Sanders, 31, joined Harris’s office after serving as a senior assistant to Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign. The former political journalist has become one of the administration’s most well-known figures, and has been a vociferous supporter of Harris in recent weeks and months as the vice president has faced criticism, notably during a tumultuous trip to Guatemala this summer.
Harris, who is suffering from the same low popularity ratings as Biden, has battled with messaging and received criticism from prominent Democrats on both sides of the aisle, including West Virginia senator Joe Manchin and progressive congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
This fueled irritation within Harris’s staff, as well as among the vice president herself, who has allegedly told colleagues that she believes she is ill-equipped to succeed Biden, even as the 79-year-old president considers whether to run for president again in 2024.
Despite outward indications of support, Biden’s team is keeping a tight eye on any signs of betrayal inside the Harris camp, according to CNN.
Such reports of conflict between the two led White House press secretary Jen Psaki to launch a rare defence of Harris last month, calling her “a forceful leader” and implying that at least part of the criticism of her was motivated by sexism.
A spokeswoman for Harris paid respect to Sanders in a statement to the Washington Post.
“Symone has completed three years of dedicated service. Symone’s dedication and lobbying for this government has been appreciated by the president and vice-president. “She is a valuable member of the White House and a team player who will be missed,” the statement stated.
Sanders previously worked as the press secretary for Vermont senator Bernie Sanders during his 2016 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, which Hillary Clinton eventually won.
Before joining Biden’s team as an advisor and strategist for his 2020 defeat of Donald Trump, she worked as a frequent political broadcaster and analyst on CNN and elsewhere. She travelled often with the vice president after becoming Harris’s primary spokeswoman, and she was eager to trumpet her accomplishments despite signs of rising instability among her team.