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Kamala Harris brings in new communications director
US Vice President Kamala Harris has brought on a new communications director. The new hire follows the departures of several aides from Harris’s office.
The Hill reports that Harris has selected top Democratic Party operative Jamal Simmons to serve as her new communications director. Simmons would be replacing Ashley Etienne, who stepped down from her post in 2021. Harris is set to announce her appointment of Simmons Thursday.
Simmons has been involved in the Democratic Party since the Clinton administration. Simmons has also served in the presidential campaign of Al Gore. Simmons was also an aide to former Democratic Senator Bob Graham, former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark, and was the chief of staff of former Democratic Michigan Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kirkpatrick.
Matt McKenna, who was a longtime adviser to former President Bill Clinton, praised the hiring of Simmons, saying that he is right for the job.
“What impressed me about him back then — and something he is only better at today – was his ability to not just listen to everyone in the room but his ability to have the right people in the room every time, even if it didn’t seem like it first glance,” said McKenna, who has also known Simmons for over 20 years. “Vice President Harris is very lucky to have him.”
The new hire follows previous reports of staff departures from Harris’s office. Aside from Ashley Etienne, Harris’s chief spokesperson Symone Sanders also stepped down from her post in 2021. Last week, Harris’s director of press operations, Peter Velz, and deputy director of public engagement and intergovernmental affairs, Vincent Evans, also announced that they were leaving Harris’s team.
Since the revelation that Harris is appointing Simmons to become her new communications director, stories have surfaced revealing that Simmons once mocked US President Joe Biden for his stories regarding Afghanistan back in 2019.
During his show “Why Should You Care,” Simmons mocked Biden for a gaffe he made at a town hall where he “conflated” several stories from a trip to Afghanistan. In the stories, the province and the timing Biden recalled was inaccurate, and the fact that the story was actually about an Army captain, not a Navy captain.
Simmons had also previously criticized Harris for suspending her presidential campaign, saying that she dropped out of the race in a key moment in time.