Harris selects new chief of staff as top aide departs White House

Harris chief of staff to leave his job

Tina Flournoy, chief of staff to Vice President Harris, is preparing to depart the White House, capping a long list of aides who have left Harris’s office in recent months, and is set to be replaced by Lorraine Voles, a veteran Democratic operative and communications expert.

Voles, who has served as a senior adviser to Harris since last summer, will assume the top role later this spring, a White House official said. She served as communications director to Vice President Al Gore and worked as an adviser to Hillary Clinton in 2008.

Flournoy has led the vice president’s operation since the start of the administration, overseeing all staff and setting the strategic direction for a historic and high-profile vice president. That makes her the highest-ranking of a sizable group of top officials who have left Harris’s office recently, including her deputy chief of staff, national security adviser and speechwriter.

Flournoy is leaving for personal reasons, a White House official said Thursday.

Until Flournoy’s exit, the most visible departure from Harris was senior Harris adviser Symone Sanders, who left at the end of last year and shortly afterwards inked a deal with MSNBC. Jamal Simmons, a longtime Democratic operative, joined Harris’s staff as communications director a short time later as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the communications team.

“Tina has been a valued advisor and confidant to me and tremendous leader for the office,” Harris said in a statement. “From day 1, she led our team during a historic first year as we made progress rebuilding our economy here at home and our alliances around the world. Tina is the consummate public servant and I will continue to rely on her advice, counsel and friendship.”

Flournoy’s departure is likely to revive career-long questions about Harris’s management style and the high frequency of staff turnover in her offices and on her campaigns. The move comes at a critical moment, since the upcoming midterm elections — especially if Democrats suffer losses as expected — could clarify whether President Biden will seek reelection and promptly renewed attention on Harris as an alternative.

Harris aides say the departures are routine and unrelated to any internal strife in the vice president’s operation. Some also suggest that she is facing disproportionate — and at times unfair — criticism because of her role as a powerful woman of color.

“Tina has been a critical member of the White House team since day one, working with the President and Vice President to make their partnership effective and help the administration deliver on critical priorities,” Ron Klain, Biden’s chief of staff, said in a statement . “Her experience, wisdom, and hard work have been instrumental to our success on many issues.”

Still, the high turnover in Harris’s office stands in stark contrast to the West Wing, where Biden’s inner circle has remained in place throughout his presidency — and much of his decades-long career.

Harris staff exodus raises questions about her future

Before joining the White House, Flournoy had a lengthy career in democratic politics. She served as President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff and held top roles on the Democratic National Committee and on Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign.

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