The exodus of Vice President Kamala Harris’ aides reached a fever pitch this week when chief of staff Tina Flournoy announced she is stepping down after only 15 months on the job. The magic number is now up to 12 departures in just over a year, and Harris’ deputy chief of staff, Michael Fuchs, will be number 13 in May.
Reports started soon after day one about low morale, lack of communication and trust, and negativity in the vice president’s office. Two administration officials describe an environment of mistreatment, aides feeling they are thrown under the bus, and ideas being ignored or harshly dismissed. Many former staffers say this pattern was brought to the office by, along with the vice president, Flournoy herself.
There have been multiple reports of dysfunction within the office as well as tension between Harris’s and President Biden’s offices. The laundry list of recent issues hardly stops there.
Harris’s office expressed anger over a cover photo in Vogue magazine that aides said made her feel “wounded” and “belittled.” The slight? Harris was in Converse sneakers and “skinny” pants. As Biden prepared for last year’s inauguration, an adviser allegedly told the Harris staff that the “trivial” issue was a “first world problem.”
The vice president famously took offense at White House aides not standing when she entered a room. A forthcoming book “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future,” says she “fixated” on actions such as these as part of a pattern of “perceived snubs.” Harris’s staffers also reportedly believe she does not get her deserved respect from Biden’s “almost entirely white inner circle.”
The White House says Flournoy, the most senior member of Harri’s staff to bail out, will be replaced by top adviser Lorraine Voles. She was brought into Harris’ office last year when the VP was getting negative press due to the rash of departures.
It wasn’t long ago when speculation abounded that Biden, who is already the oldest president in U.S. history, would step aside to pave the way for a doubly historic nomination for the vice president. That chatter has been replaced with deafening silence.