On Friday the Vice President joined Charlamagne, real name Lenard Larry McKelvey, on his Comedy Central show Tha God’s Honest Truth for an interview about the Biden administration and its relationship with Black voters.
The interview was going well until Charlamagne appeared to hit on a touchy subject: Senator Joe Manchin, and his continued obstruction of the Biden administration’s signature Build Back Better Act.
“Who’s the superhero that’s going to speak against Joe Manchin?” the rapper asked.
On a video clip of the interview, it then appeared that he was cut off by Symone Sanders, the VP’s press secretary, who intervened from off-camera.
“I’m sorry, Charlamagne,” Ms Sanders can be heard saying. Charlamagne chuckles and then continues. “I just want to know who the president is, is it Joe Biden or Joe Manchin?”
Ms Harris appeared to have heard his question and began to respond. “It’s...”, the vice president says, while the voice of Ms Sanders returns and once again tries to shut down the interview.
“I’m sorry Charlamagne...I don’t think the vice president can hear you. It’s Symone,” Ms Sanders says. “I’m so sorry, Charlemagne, we have to wrap.”
“She can hear me,” says a clearly exasperated Charlamagne.
After a few more seconds of confusion, he adds: “They’re acting like they can’t hear me.”
He begins to laugh, while Ms Harris responds: “I can hear you.”
Charlamagne then repeats the question, asking: “So who’s the real president of this country...?”
“Come on, Charlamagne,” Ms Harris responded. “No no no no no, it’s Joe Biden, and don’t start talking like a Republican, about asking whether or not he’s president.”
The interview then continued for several minutes, without any obvious technical issues, despite Ms Sanders’ previous concerns.
.@cthagod asked @KamalaHarris “I wanna know who the real president of this country is, Joe Biden or Joe Manchin,” and it seems the question was so difficult it to answer Symone Sanders stepped in and tried to end the interview. pic.twitter.com/XVyHiJOoHq— Briahna Joy Gray (@briebriejoy) December 18, 2021
The Independent has reached out to both Charlamagne Tha God’s representatives and the White House to determine the extent of the apparent audio issue, and for a response to claims that the vice president’s staff was purposefully trying to end the interview.
That claim was echoed on Twitter by many including Bernie Sanders’ former press secretary, Briahna Joy Gray.
“[I]t seems the question was so difficult it to answer Symone Sanders stepped in and tried to end the interview,” she tweeted.
However Ms Harris was praised by some political allies for her strong response to the suggestion that Mr Biden was not in control of his own administration.
“Whew! @VP ate Charlemagne up!” tweeted an aide to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, adding: “Stop playing with her.”
Ms Harris and Mr Biden have both battled negative headlines on their approval ratings for weeks. Mr Biden, 79, has also faced longstanding conspiratorial claims from the right regarding his competence, given his age.
Ms Harris, who was put in charge of the complex issues of getting voting rights legislation passed and managing the migrant influx at the US-Mexico border, has faced scrutiny over a lack of progress.
Her office has also publicly battled reports of dissatisfaction among her staff and is set to see a number of high-profile departures including that of Ms Sanders at the end of the year.
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