White House plays damage control after reported internal dysfunction

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Monday, March 8, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Vice President Kamala Harris ‘valuable member of the team,’ Jen Psaki says.

The White House defended on Monday its internal dynamic between the West Wing and Vice President Kamala Harris’ office, saying President Joe Biden’s number two is a “key partner” and a “valuable member of the team.”

Harris “is somebody who has taken on incredibly important assignments, whether it is addressing the root causes of migration at the North Triangle, or taking on a core cause of democracy in voting rights,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

“There’s been a lot of reports out there and they don’t reflect his view, or our experience with the vice president,” Psaki added, referring to Biden’s perspective. “The president relies on the vice president for her advice, for her counsel.”

The comments come in the wake of a scathing CNN report over the weekend that alleged Biden’s team has become exasperated by what they see as “entrenched dysfunction and lack of focus” in the vice president’s office. Meanwhile, many in Harris’ office “fume that she’s not being adequately prepared or positioned, and instead is being sidelined.”

CNN cited interviews with roughly three dozen people, including former and current Harris aides, Democratic operatives and administration officials, some of whom said Harris has repeatedly said she feels constrained in her role.

“Those around her remain wary of even hinting at future political ambitions, with Biden’s team highly attuned to signs of disloyalty, particularly from the vice president,” the report alleged.

Harris is the first woman and first person of color to sit in the vice president’s chair, but CNN reported that she is “perceived to be in such a weak position that top Democrats in and outside of Washington have begun to speculate privately, asking each other why the White House has allowed her to become so hobbled in the public consciousness, at least as they see it.”