Symone Sanders, Vice President Kamala Harris’s senior adviser and chief spokesperson, will leave the White House by the end of the year, according to sources familiar with the matter.
“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,” Sanders wrote in a note to her staff Wednesday evening. “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.”
Sanders joined the vice president’s team after serving as Joe Biden’s senior campaign adviser in the 2020 election. Before working for the Biden campaign, Sanders served as Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (D-VT) national press secretary during his 2016 run for president.
Sanders guided Harris through a tumultuous first year in office that saw harsh criticism for its messaging tactics.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) was frustrated with Harris’ decision to promote the Biden administration’s agenda in West Virginia without calling him first. Additionally, Harris’s team suffered backlash for not visiting the U.S.-Mexico border while on her first trip abroad.
Further, Sanders spread misinformation to the press surrounding Harris’s coronavirus testing in July.
In addition to Sanders, Harris’s Director of Press Operations Peter Velz will also exit the White House “in the coming weeks.”
A source familiar confirms Peter Velz, Director of Press Operations for @VP Kamala Harris, also plans to leave the VP's office "in the coming weeks."
— Tim Perry (@tperry518) December 2, 2021
The news of Sanders’ and Velz’s exits comes just two weeks after Harris’s communications director Ashley Etienne announced her resignation.
“Many in the vice president’s circle fume that she’s not being adequately prepared or positioned, and instead is being sidelined,” CNN reported. “The vice president herself has told several confidants she feels constrained in what she’s able to do politically.”
Sanders may have hard feelings towards Biden too. She was reportedly “hurt” and “stung” by Biden’s decision to hire Jen Psaki as White House press secretary.
“Sanders had made it known, privately and in her book, that she hoped to be the first Black woman to hold the job of press secretary,” the Washington Post reported.
While on the campaign trail, Sanders defended Biden after saying, “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black,” tweeting that the comments were made “in jest.”