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Kamala Harris’s ex-spokeswoman slams claims she was source of ‘friction’ as ‘salacious gossip’


Symone Sanders hit back at people who briefed against her during her turbulent time as Vice President Kamala Harris‘s spokeswoman, calling out the stories of dysfunction as ‘salacious gossip’ in an interview published Monday.

Sanders, 32, left the administration during the holidays.

When she announced her departure last year it was taken as further evidence that Harris’s office was in disarray, amid headlines of a toxic work environment and an exodus of key personnel.

Some stories pointed the finger at Sanders herself. Two unidentified sources told The Hill that the spokeswoman was seen as a rival to Harris’s communications director, and that she was the ‘voice in numerous blind quotes about friction in the office.’

Sanders blasted those reports using an expletive during an interview with her hometown newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald

She declined to talk about that story in particular, saying she was not going to comment on ‘salacious gossip.’

But responding to questions about reports of dysfunction in general, she said her thoughts on ‘people who like to complain to the papers’  were well documented.

Instead she said it was the ‘honor of her life’ to serve the vice president.  

Symone Sanders defended the vice president after leaving Kamala Harris’s office during the holidays, and slammed what she called ‘salacious gossip’ that blamed her for damaging leaks

Sanders, 32, was the vice president's spokeswoman during a turbulent first 11 months in office

Sanders, 32, was the vice president’s spokeswoman during a turbulent first 11 months in office

Harris has struggled with negative approval ratings and an exodus of key staff from her office

Harris has struggled with negative approval ratings and an exodus of key staff from her office

‘She is someone who I watch every single day bring her full self to work,’ Sanders said. ‘I watch her challenge her teams, I watch her push us all to be better. 

‘I watch her raise issues and perspectives and topics and policy that other people — other folks just weren’t thinking about.’ 

Her endorsement of Harris comes after weeks of damaging headlines and plunging poll numbers.

Last month, Karris was branded a ‘bully’ who inflicted ‘constant soul destroying criticism’ on her staff by insiders quoted in the Washington Post.

Former staffers said the vice president was exhibiting the same management style that had dogged much of her political career. 

‘It’s clear that you’re not working with somebody who is willing to do the prep and the work,’ a former colleague said.

‘With Kamala you have to put up with a constant amount of soul-destroying criticism and also her own lack of confidence. 

‘So you’re constantly sort of propping up a bully and it’s not really clear why.’ 

As well as Sanders, communications chief Ashley Etienne and two other staffers who helped shape the vice president’s public image departed the office at the end of the year. 

Harris has not been helped by constant criticism of her role trying to tackle the root causes of migration to the U.S. from Central America, which so far appear not to have stemmed the numbers arriving at the southern border.

A rolling average of the vice president’s approval rating, maintained by the analytics website FiveThirtyEight, shows her numbers are underwater. Some 40 percent of voters approve of her performance, while 47.5 percent disapprove. 

Last month she reportedly met with Black leaders to learn how she could do better in connecting with ordinary Americans.

They told her to be more open about her work and offered to serve as ambassadors for her.

‘She was asking for clarity on how to best touch the everyday American rank and file who may or may not be living Beltway life like we do,’ Shavon Arline-Bradley, president of D4 in Action, told Politico.

‘She said “I want the message to resonate with the Beltway and beyond, outside of Washington, D.C. How do I get that message out?”‘

Sanders was Bernie Sanders’ press secretary during his 2016 presidential campaign and a senior adviser to President Joe Biden’s 2020 run before joining the vice president's team

Sanders was Bernie Sanders’ press secretary during his 2016 presidential campaign and a senior adviser to President Joe Biden’s 2020 run before joining the vice president’s team

Sanders said the Biden and Harris would be doing more to trumpet their successes. 

‘This administration has a positive story to tell, and I think those are the kinds of things you will hear from the president and vice president as they head into quarter two of their administration at the top of next year,’ she said. 

Sanders pointed to the first maternal health summit at the White House, which was hosted by Harris, and the vice president’s trips abroad and calls with foreign leaders.  

‘World leaders know that when Vice President Kamala Harris speaks, she speaks for the president,’ Sanders said. ‘This has just been such a powerful and transformative experience.’

Before joining the Harris team, Sanders was Bernie Sanders’ press secretary during his 2016 presidential campaign and a senior adviser to President Joe Biden’s 2020 run.

She added that she did not yet have a new job to announce and wanted time to focus on her wedding in August.

‘At this moment in time, I feel so honored to have served President Biden and Vice President Harris, and I’m going to continue to be a reliable voice for this White House on the outside, regardless of whatever I do next,’ she said. 

‘But, at this time, you know, I just think it’s my time.’



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