- Biden threatened to fire his aides if he found out they were leaking negative stories about Harris.
- The warning was reported in a forthcoming book by two New York Times journalists.
- Harris has faced low public approval ratings during her vice presidency.
President Joe Biden threatened to fire any of his senior aides if he learned that they were behind a string of negative stories about Vice President Kamala Harris and her office, according to a forthcoming book.
The warning came last year after several news outlets published stories that described dysfunction in Harris’ office and tensions between her staffers and Biden’s. The White House defended Harris in public statements and dismissed the reports.
“No one was more frustrated by the leaks than Joe Biden. The president had known many of Harris’s shortcomings when he chose her to be his running mate, but he was defensive of her and irritated by the unsightly drama spilling into view,” New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns wrote in “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future.” Insider obtained an advance copy of the book before its publication on Tuesday.
Biden gathered his senior staff to the Oval Office, and told them he would let them go if they leaked such stories about Harris, according to the book.
Harris’s vice president has not been smooth sailing. She’s faced low public approval ratings and a string of top advisors have left her office.
According to the book, when White House chief of staff Ron Klain met last April with Rep. Kathy Manning, a Democrat from North Carolina, he was dismayed to find out that Manning had been left out of parts of Harris’ recent trip to her district. The White House often makes it a point to include lawmakers in top officials’ stops and Biden often notes their presence from the podium.
“That makes me want to vomit,” Klain said, according to the authors, based on one person’s account of the meeting.
The White House did not respond to Insider’s request for comment. An official previously told Insider that the administration did not plan on engaging in “confirmation or denials” about the book’s specific claims.
“We respect that there will be no shortage of books written about the administration containing a wide variety of claims,” Deputy Press Secretary Chris Meagher said in a statement. “We don’t plan to engage in confirmations or denials when it comes to the specifics of those claims.”
The book is replete with examples of how Biden’s team reportedly mocked Harris’ team.
In one example, West Wing staff mocked the suggestion that the vice president would carve out an international portfolio by taking the lead on relations with Nordic countries. The private derision went even further when it was floated that Harris should give a sweeping speech on foreign policy.
“Biden aides vetoed the idea,” the authors write. “Why should a vice president have their own independently articulated view of global affairs?”
One of the biggest flashpoints came over a relatively trivial slight. Harris’ team was upset with the photo Vogue selected for its February 2021 issue.
A Biden advisor, according to the book, told Harris’ enraged aides and her then-chief of staff Tina Flournoy that there were bigger things to deal with ahead of the inauguration that would take place shortly after the insurrection.
“Tina, the advisor said,” the authors write, “these are first world problems.”