VP Harris’ communications director is leaving following reports of infighting, dysfunction

Ashley Etienne, who is serving as Vice President Kamala Harris’ communications director, is set to leave her role next month, according to a late Thursday report.

An unnamed official confirmed to The Hill that Etienne was set to leave in December, the latest official serving under the vice president to do so.

“Ashley is a valued member of the Vice President’s team, who has worked tirelessly to advance the goals of this administration,” an unnamed White House official said, according to the outlet. “She is leaving the office in December to pursue other opportunities.”

Etienne came on board Harris’ team after she took office in January. She previously served as the communications director for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and worked in the Obama administration prior to joining the Speaker’s office, The Hill added.

The outlet said that Harris’ office did not respond to a request for comment regarding Etienne’s departure. However, Vanity Fair reported that her decision to leave came before a CNN report earlier this week claiming that there are major rifts between allies of the vice president and others in the West Wing.

“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,” CNN reported.

Citing “a complex reality inside the White House,” the network went on to report that many inside Harris’ orbit “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,” the network added.

The network’s report came as both Biden and Harris hit new lows in polls, with the president’s approval down to 38 percent and the vice president’s even lower, at 28 percent, according to a survey commissioned by USA Today and Suffolk University earlier this month.

But CNN is not the first to report on a tumultuous vice presidency rife with infighting and departures.

In July, Politico reported that the staffers in the vice president’s office complained that she treated them “like s**t,” while several current and former aides described the environment as “abusive.”

“People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment. 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–t,” one source told the outlet.

The treatment left many staffers and aides “experiencing low morale, porous lines of communication and diminished trust,” the outlet added.

The Hill also noted that Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign was also nightmarish and “marred by staffing issues” that led her to be one of the first in what became a crowded field of Democratic candidates to withdraw from the race before the first caucus in Iowa.

Missy Halsey


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