There is dysfunction inside the VP’s office, aides and administration officials say. And it’s emanating from the top.
When Vice President Kamala Harris finally made the decision to visit the Mexico border last week, people inside her own office were blindsided by the news.
For days, aides and outside allies had been calling and texting with each other about the political fallout that a potential trip would entail. But when it became knownthat she was going to El Paso, it left many scrambling, including officials who were responsible for making travel arrangements and others outside the VP’s office charged with crafting the messaging across the administration.
The handling of the border visit was the latest chaotic moment for a staff that’s quickly become mired in them. Harris’ team is experiencing low morale, porous lines of communication and diminished trust among aides and senior officials. Much of the frustration internally is directed at Tina Flournoy, Harris’ chief of staff, a veteran of Democratic politics who began working for her earlier this year.
In interviews, 22 current and former vice presidential aides, administration officials and associates of Harris and Biden described a tense and at times douroffice atmosphere. Aides and allies said Flournoy, in an apparent effort to protect Harris,has instead created an insular environment where ideas are ignored or met with harsh dismissals and decisions are dragged out. Often, they said, she refuses to take responsibility for delicate issues and blames staffers for the negative results that ensue.