Report: Inside the growing tensions between Harris and Biden
CNN spoke with dozens of insiders about the growing tensions between President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Many within the vice president’s circle feel that she’s being sidelined, with Harris telling several confidants she feels politically constrained.
“It is natural that those of us who know her know how much more helpful she can be than she is currently being asked to be,” said Eleni Kounalakis, the lieutenant governor of California and Harris’s longtime friend. “That’s where the frustration is coming from.”
According to CNN, other Democrats are quietly waiting in the wings to start laying the groundwork for a presidential run if and when Harris falters.
Meanwhile, key White House aides view Harris and her staff as dysfunctional and unfocused. Many sources outlined the same details: Harris’s staff has repeatedly failed her and left her exposed, and family members have often had an informal say within her office.
Last month, Fox News host Tucker Carlson criticized Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for taking paternity leave, and White House aides sprang to his defense. Harris loyalists told CNN they wondered why she didn’t get similar treatment when she’s been the subject of criticism on the right.
“It’s hard to miss the specific energy that the White House brings to defend a white man, knowing that Kamala Harris has spent almost a year taking a lot of the hits that the West Wing didn’t want to take themselves,” said a former Harris aide.
White House aides said the timing of Buttigieg’s leave was serendipitous as Biden is pushing for a national paid leave law to be part of his social safety net package.
The outlet reported that Harris didn’t want to be assigned to manage the border, as it’s a no-win political situation that would sandbag any future aspirations. Biden’s team was annoyed that Harris fumbled answers to questions about the border, including an awkward laughing response about not visiting it during an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt.
Part of the frustration stems from the lack of follow-through from Harris’s office. During her trip to El Paso, Texas, this summer, Harris met with Fernando Garcia, executive director of Border Network for Human Rights. Garcia said that he was optimistic at first, but now she’s “disappeared.”
“We haven’t heard any substantive messaging push for better immigration policies,” Garcia said. “We haven’t seen her leadership.”
Some top Harris aides said they regret that she didn’t request more well-defined assignments.
“They’re consistently sending her out there on losing issues in the wrong situations for her skill set,” said a former high-level Harris aide.
The CNN report isn’t the first rumbling of tensions in Harris’s office. In June, Politico reported that her office was “chaotic.”
“People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment,” one source told Politico. “It’s not a healthy environment and people often feel mistreated. It’s not a place where people feel supported but a place where people feel treated like s—.”