Working for Vice President Kamala Harris was so traumatizing for some former staffers, the experience has left them terrified at the thought of her becoming president, Insider reports:
It's a nightmare scenario for some former Harris staffers who watched nervously as their former boss ascended the national political stage. Many of them remain loyal Democrats and fans of Biden, but they didn't want to see a boss with whom they'd had a bad experience become the Democratic Party's standard bearer. Biden, at 78, was already the oldest person to assume the US presidency. He'll be a few weeks shy of his 82nd birthday on Election Day 2024, and there's already speculation six months into his term over whether he'll run for reelection.
The outlet interviewed a dozen former Harris staffers from various points in her political career, nearly all of whom "spoke on condition of anonymity to protect professional relationships, adding that Harris' job trajectory means it's well within reason she could become the most powerful person on the planet."
That's a terrifying prospect for ex-aides who recall a "toxic" and "reactionary" workplace infused with "a sense of paranoia in that office that you never knew when she was going to snap at you." One former staffer who had mostly positive things to say about Harris conceded that her staffers were often "so stressed out that they were making themselves sick. Is that toxic? I don't know."
The comments from former staffers echo those published earlier this month in Politico. "People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses, and it's an abusive environment," said one person with knowledge of Harris's management style. "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—t."
Some people have defended the vice president against the charges of staff abuse, including Anita Dunn, a senior White House aide who served as a "damage control" adviser to disgraced Hollywood pervert Harvey Weinstein. According to Dunn, the situation in the VP's office was "not anywhere near what you are describing," though she declined to elaborate as to whether it was better or worse than the situation being described.
Within the community of traumatized former Harris staffers, the Politico report "went around like wildfire," as many "recognized treatment they had seen" during their time in her office. One former aide even forwarded the story to their therapist along with a note that read: "Rarely in life are we publicly vindicated." The ex-staffer told Insider they sought therapy to "resolve trauma from the on-the-job abuse" after Harris was selected as Biden's running mate in 2020.
Their accounts described Harris as an unpredictable boss who would unleash "a lot of verbal abuse" upon staffers who failed to fulfill her erratic demands, or even for handing her the wrong type of pen. The traumatic work environment could explain why Harris had one of the highest staff turnover rates among U.S. senators between 2017 and 2020.
A former aide who worked for Harris in the California attorney general's office said the reports coming out of Harris's office just a few months after Biden was inaugurated were "very concerning" and delivered a vague yet ominous warning to the American people: "It's important to both the nation and the Biden administration that this doesn't happen again."