Amid nosediving approval ratings and recent revelations of worsening strife within the White House,Vice President Kamala Harris’ communications director, Ashley Etienne, announced on Thursday that she is resigning her position, effective next month, as Fox News reports.
In a statement issued to CNN, an official from the White House declared, “Ashley is a valued member of the vice president’s team, who has worked tirelessly to advance the goals of this administration. She is leaving the office in December to pursue other opportunities.”
Though departures of this nature are relatively routine in presidential administrations, Etienne’s decision comes at a time of increased speculation about the role Harris has played in the Biden White House and follows closely on the heels of reports suggesting that the vice president has been deliberately shunted to the sidelines due to strained relations with the commander in chief’s staff.
Harris has long faced intense criticism of her handling of the politically fraught tasks she has been handed by Biden, particularly that of the crisis at the southern border, and recent polling has indicated that her approval rating has plummeted to a startling 28%, making many Democrat insiders worry about the future electoral prospects of the party with her as the presumptive heir apparent to a president whose poll numbers are only slightly better.
Despite the rumors swirling about Harris in recent days – including one suggesting that her replacement as vice president is imminent – the administration has gone to some lengths to downplay the notion that there is anything significant going on between the Biden and Harris camps.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki took to Twitter last week to tamp down the scuttlebutt, saying, “For anyone who needs to hear it. @VP is not only a vital partner to @POTUS, but a bold leader who has taken on key, important challenges facing the country – from voting rights to addressing root causes of migration to expanding broadband.”
Harris herself has been doing what she can to dispel the rumors, telling George Stephanopoulous of ABC News on Thursday that she did not feel, as he suggested, “misused or underused,” as the New York Post noted.
“I’m very, very excited about the work that we have accomplished,” Harris explained, adding, “But I am also absolutely, absolutely clear-eyed that there is a lot more to do, and we’re gonna get it done.”
Though it remains unclear whether the loss of her communications director is in fact solid evidence of an alarming level of unease inside the White House about Harris, Etienne’s decision to depart certainly does little to quash such speculation at time when the administration as a whole appears at real risk of falling apart.