OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Vice President Kamala Harris is losing another top staffer, according to reports.
Josh Hsu, who is Harris’ top legal adviser, reportedly said he intends to leave by year’s end, according to Axios on Wednesday.
Hsu, a Democratic lawyer, has worked for Harris since she was a U.S. senator from California, the report noted. He plans to enter private practice, Axios said.
In a statement to the outlet, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain praised Hsu’s work and contributions to the Biden administration.
“Josh is an incredible legal mind, and this entire White House has greatly benefited from his talent,” Klain said.
He also praised Hsu for what many believe is Biden’s most visible accomplishment to date, his judicial appointments.
“I’ve been through many judicial confirmations, and Josh’s perspective on the White House’s Supreme Court confirmation team ensuring the historic confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, was very impressive,” Klain said.
Harris, in particular, has had difficulty retaining staffers, reportedly due to an abusive work environment.
In December 2021, the Washington Post published a report that included interviews with then-current and former staffers, many on the condition of anonymity, who gave some candid responses to what it is like working for Harris.
“It’s clear that you’re not working with somebody who is willing to do the prep and the work,” a former staffer said to The Post. “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.”
Bearstar Strategies partner Sean Clegg who advised Harris during her career defended the vice president as a tough boss but not a bully.
“She has put me personally in the position of feeling like Jeff Sessions,” he said, referring to when the former senator and attorney general said Harris “makes me nervous.”
“People personalize these things,” he said. “I’ve never had an experience in my long history with Kamala, where I felt like she was unfair. Has she called bulls—? Yes. And does that make people uncomfortable sometimes? Yes. But if she were a man with her management style, she would have a TV show called ‘The Apprentice.’”
The Post added:
Still, the quartet of announced departures were all for jobs that helped shape the vice president’s image to the American people — important roles for one of the nation’s most closely watched politicians, one whose first year missteps have been picked apart in the public eye.
As Harris looks for a new communications director and press secretary, several of her former communications aides are working in top roles at government agencies: Lily Adams, her former campaign and Senate communications director, works at the Treasury Department; Rebecca Chalif, her deputy communications director on the campaign, now works as the director of press at the U.S. Agency for International Development; Ian Sams, national press secretary for Harris’s campaign, and Kirsten Allen, deputy national press secretary, are at the Department of Health and Human Services.
In July 2021, a report said that some staffers believed her office was abusive.
“People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment,” a person that Politico claims knows how her office works, said. “It’s not a healthy environment and people often feel mistreated. It’s not a place where people feel supported but a place where people feel treated like s—.”
The report added that members of President Joe Biden’s staff have noticed and are concerned about how members of Harris’ team are treated.
In April, Harris’ chief of staff announced she was leaving, with the Washington Post claiming that Tina Flournoy was departing for personal reasons.
“Tina has been a valued advisor and confidant to me and a tremendous leader for the office,” the vice president said. “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.”