An exodus of top staffers from Vice President Kamala Harris’s office is not cause for concern, according to the White House.
“Working in the first year of a White House is exciting and rewarding, but it's also grueling and exhausting. It's all of those things at once,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday. “It's also an opportunity to bring in new faces and perspectives, which is overall a very positive thing.”
Harris’s senior adviser and chief spokeswoman Symone Sanders announced her departure late Wednesday, one of several high-level departures in the vice president's office since taking office earlier this year. Ashley Etienne, Harris's communications director, is also stepping down.
KAMALA HARRIS BRACES FOR LOSS OF ANOTHER TOP AIDE
Psaki called Sanders “whip smart,” with “charisma coming out of her eyeballs.”
“She's going to do plenty of interesting things in the world in the future,” Psaki added.
“It's natural for staffers who have thrown their heart and soul into a job to be ready to move on to a new challenge after a few years, and that is applicable to many of these individuals,” Psaki said. “It's also an opportunity, as it is in any White House, to bring in new faces, new voices, and new perspectives.”
Peter Velz, the vice president's director of press operations, is also leaving Harris's office in the coming weeks, along with Vince Evans, deputy director of public engagement and intergovernmental affairs, according to reports. Over the summer, several advance staffers stepped down from their positions.
Asked whether the West Wing expected a similar turnover, Psaki demurred, saying that she didn’t “have anything to anticipate or preview for you” but that working in the White House is grueling and the public should not read into the departures.
“People are ready to do something new. They're ready to spend time with their families. They're ready to sleep more, and that is to be expected,” Psaki added. “I know the vice president is grateful to all the staff who have served her.”
Harris has faced messaging challenges and intense scrutiny during her time in the White House. Former aides have also said she can be difficult to work for.
In a letter to her colleagues late Wednesday that was reported by Politico, Sanders wrote, “Shortly, Politico, CNN and lord know whoever else is going to report that I am leaving the office at the end of December. It’s true and I’m sorry you all found out like this."
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“I’m so grateful to the VP for her vote of confidence from the very beginning ... I am immensely grateful and will miss working for her and with all of you,” she added. “We are fighters. Our President and VP are fighters and I will continue to be on the team, fighting for them.”