Administration

Symone Sanders to leave the White House at the end of the year

Symone Sanders, senior adviser and chief spokesperson for Vice President Harris, is leaving the Biden administration at the end of the year, a White House official confirmed to The Hill on Wednesday.

Sanders has served alongside President Biden for three years, starting as a member of his 2020 presidential campaign before moving to the transition team and then later becoming deputy assistant to the president and senior adviser and chief spokesperson to the vice president.

“Symone has served honorably for 3 years,” a White House official told The Hill, adding that Biden and Harris are “grateful for Symone’s service and advocacy” and “she will be missed.”

The official called Sanders “a valued member” of the White House and a “team player.”

Sanders, in a note to staff Wednesday night, said she is “so grateful to the VP for her vote of confidence from the very beginning and the opportunity to see what can be unburdened by what has been,” according to Politico.

“I’m grateful for [Harris chief of staff] Tina [Flournoy] and her leadership and her confidence as well. Every day, I arrived to the White House complex knowing our work made a tangible difference for Americans. I am immensely grateful and will miss working for her and with all of you,” she added.

Sanders is the second senior member of Harris’s communications team to announce their departure from the White House in recent weeks. The vice president’s communications director Ashley Etienne is leaving her post in December “to pursue other opportunities,” a White House official said. 

The move comes after CNN reported last month on frustrations among the vice president’s team and White House officials more broadly about the role Harris is playing in the administration.

West Wing aides, however, were quick to come to the vice president’s defense, publicly calling Harris an essential part of the administration.

Sanders, in a statement on Twitter, pointed to Harris’s trip to France and the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, writing that “unfortunately” some members of the media were “focused on gossip — not on the results that the President and the Vice President have delivered.”

The top Harris aide made headlines in May when Bakari Sellers, a civil rights attorney and friend of Sanders, told The Washington Post that Sanders was “hurt” after being passed over for the job of White House press secretary, which ultimately went to Jen Psaki.

Sellers said Sanders was “stung” that Biden passed over her for Psaki, who served as communications director during the Obama administration, adding, “She was definitely hopeful that she would have that opportunity.”

Sanders wrote in her memoir that she had hoped to be named White House press secretary, which would have made her the first Black woman to serve in the role.

In May, however, after Psaki suggested plans to step down from the role of press secretary next year, Sanders told the Post that she was “happy where I am and with what I’m doing.”

“And it’s keeping me very, very busy!” she added.

Shawn Townsend, Sanders’s husband and the director of culture and nightlife in Washington, D.C., told the Post in May that Sanders was “incredibly grateful” when she received a call from Harris to join her team in the administration, adding that she was “in tears.”

Before joining Biden on the trail in 2020, Sanders worked on Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential campaign.

Tags Ashley Etienne Bernie Sanders Jen Psaki Joe Biden Symone Sanders White House staff

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