Symone Sanders to leave the VP’s office

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Symone Sanders, the senior adviser and chief spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris, is expected to leave the White House at the end of the year, according to five administration officials familiar with the matter.

It was not immediately clear where Sanders is heading next or when she will be leaving the vice president’s office. Sanders is the highest profile exit and the second high-profile one from the Harris team in the last month. Ashley Etienne, Harris’ communications director, is also set to depart in the coming weeks.

An official in the vice president’s office confirmed the departure and said the president and vice president have “known for a while.” The official added that Sanders had worked for President Joe Biden for nearly three years.

In a note to staff Wednesday night, Sanders confirmed the exit, writing, “I’m so grateful to the VP for her vote of confidence from the very beginning and the opportunity to see what can be unburdened by what has been. I’m grateful for [Harris chief of staff] Tina [Flournoy] and her leadership and her confidence as well. Every day, I arrived to the White House complex knowing our work made a tangible difference for Americans. I am immensely grateful and will miss working for her and with all of you.”

Flournoy also sent a note to the VP’s team, saying, “Symone told the VP a couple months ago that she’d be leaving us at the end of the year. I’ve often said about her that no job is too big or too small for Symone.”

One of the most publicly recognizable individuals in the Biden administration, Sanders transitioned to Harris’ vice presidential team after serving as a Biden campaign senior adviser during the 2020 election. In her post, she helped Harris juggle a tricky portfolio, including not just trying to address the root causes of migration from Northern Triangle countries and the federal push for voting rights, but also carrying the weight of being the nation’s first female vice president.

It wasn’t always smooth. Harris’ office has been beset by disorder, bad press, and, at times, internal frictions. Outside advisers complained that she was handed policy issues that were destined for failure and not given what she needed to succeed as vice president. And, in recent weeks, chatter has grown increasingly loud that Harris wasn’t positioned well to be Biden’s heir apparent in 2028 or, if he opts not to run again, in 2024.

Sanders, who traveled frequently with Harris, often was the aide who pushed back against these storylines. That included this past November when she took to Harris’ defense amid the latest wave of stories about the uncertainty of her political future.

“It is unfortunate that after a productive trip to France in which we reaffirmed our relationship with America’s oldest ally and demonstrated U.S. leadership on the world stage, and following passage of a historic, bipartisan infrastructure bill that will create jobs and strengthen our communities, some in the media are focused on gossip,” she wrote.

Alex Thompson contributed to this report.

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