Staff members continue to stream out of the Biden-Harris White House following reports of a hostile work environment and infighting between the presidential and vice-presidential offices.
“Emma Riley, the White House communications chief of staff, announced in a Friday tweet that she is leaving the West Wing and will be joining the Labor Department,” Fox News reported Saturday.
Riley noted on her social media account: “It was an honor and privilege to serve @POTUS and the American people at the @WhiteHouse. I’m excited to be moving down Pennsylvania Ave and traveling around the country with @SecMartyWalsh and @USDOL. Follow along on the road to #BuildBackBetter.”
— Emma Riley (@ERiley46) November 19, 2021
Riley’s departure announcement comes after another one from the White House this week, per Fox News:
In addition to Riley’s departure from the White House, Vice President Kamala Harris’ communications director resigned on Thursday amid reports of turmoil within the East Wing.
Ashley Etienne, a longtime top adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., served as Pelosi’s communications director twice, and also in the Obama White House.
“Ashley is a valued member of the Vice President’s team, who has worked tirelessly to advance the goals of this administration,” a White House official told the network. “She is leaving the office in December to pursue other opportunities.”
The White House has attempted to play down the departures as well as reports of chaotic relationships, infighting, mistrust, and angst in Harris’ office over the way she is being used by President Biden.
A CNN report last week provided a broader picture.
“Worn out by what they see as entrenched dysfunction and lack of focus, key West Wing aides have largely thrown up their hands at Vice President Kamala Harris and her staff — deciding there simply isn’t time to deal with them right now, especially at a moment when President Joe Biden faces quickly multiplying legislative and political concerns,” the network reported.
Citing “a complex reality inside the White House,” CNN reported further that many inside the veep’s circle of influence privately “fume that she’s not being adequately prepared or positioned, and instead is being sidelined.”
“The vice president herself has told several confidants she feels constrained in what she’s able to do politically. And those around her remain wary of even hinting at future political ambitions, with Biden’s team highly attuned to signs of disloyalty, particularly from the vice president,” CNN added.
But the CNN report isn’t the first one by the media detailing what appears to be a toxic relationship between the veep and the president. It also was not the first report providing a glimpse into Harris’ staff problems.
In July when Harris finally decided to visit the U.S.-Mexico border months after Biden placed her in charge of solving the crisis — she decided to visit the El Paso sector, which was not being inundated with illegal migrant or drug smuggling traffic — it became “the latest chaotic moment for a staff that’s quickly become mired in them,” Politico reported.
“In interviews, 22 current and former vice presidential aides, administration officials and associates of Harris and Biden described a tense and at times dour office atmosphere,” the outlet reported.
Harris herself was implicated by several people who spoke to the outlet on condition of anonymity.
“It all starts at the top,” said one of the administration officials.
“People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment,” said another person with direct knowledge of how Harris’ office is run. “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—.”
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