Kamala Harris communications director quitting, White House official says

Communications director Ashley Etienne is standing down ‘to pursue other opportunities’

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Thursday 18 November 2021 22:42
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<p>Vice President Kamala Harris in Paris, France</p>

Vice President Kamala Harris in Paris, France

Ashley Etienne, the former adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who has served as Vice President Kamala Harris’ communications director since 20 January, is leaving her post next month.

A White House official confirmed her departure to The Independent in a statement, calling Ms Etienne “a valued member of the Vice President’s team, who has worked tirelessly to advance the goals of this administration”.

“She is leaving the office in December to pursue other opportunities,” the official added.

Ms Etienne’s impending departure — first reported by Vanity Fair — comes amid a sea of recent bad headlines for Ms Harris, who has reportedly chafed at the portfolio assigned to her by aides to President Joe Biden. The Vice President has been the White House’s point woman on the “root causes” of migration to the US-Mexico border and on the issue of voting rights, two of the most controversial issues and intractable problems facing the Biden administration.

Earlier this week, Ms Harris appeared alongside Mr Biden as he signed his $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law. It was the first event both the president and vice president had spoken at in some time, as White House officials have sought to keep Ms Harris from being part of Mr Biden’s photo ops after her constant presence alongside him — often to deliver remarks of her own — attracted attention from reporters.

Both Mr Biden and Ms Harris have seen their approval ratings decline in recent months, but Ms Harris’ polling is the lowest of any vice president in modern history. Earlier this month, a USA Today / Suffolk University poll showed her garnering approval from only 28 percent of registered voters.

On Thursday, Ms Harris pushed back on the suggestion that there is any tension between her and Mr Biden in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

“We’re getting things done, and we’re doing it together,” she said during the interview, which aired on the network’s Good Morning America programme.

The vice president told Mr Stephanopoulos that she does not feel misused or underused by the Biden White House, and while she is “very, very excited” about what the administration has accomplished, she stressed that she and Mr Biden have “a lot more to do”.

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