Kamala Harris cements her place in Biden's inner circle during a consequential week
April 25, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
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Vice President Kamala Harris was huddled with other White House officials in President Joe Biden's private dining room last week when the room let out a "collective exhale." A Minnesota jury had found Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd.
Watch live on CNNgo. Washington (CNN)Vice President Kamala Harris was huddled with other White House officials in President Joe Biden's private dining room last week when the room let out a "collective exhale. " A Minnesota jury had found Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd.
Harris joined Biden and the first lady moments later in the Oval Office, where Floyd's family was patched in by speakerphone.
Nearly 100 days into their tenure, Biden and Harris have worked to deepen their relationship, spending five hours or more together per day in meetings at the White House, according to aides.
Her presence at Biden's side while the verdict was read, and later in the Grand Foyer as each delivered a statement, was the culmination of weeks of private conversations between Biden and Harris about the trial, which officials said had been a subject of increasing concern for the President as he weighed potential outcomes and the prospect of renewed unrest around the country.
"You'll recall that when Joe Biden asked me to join him on the ticket, he did so with a sense of intentionality, of purpose, knowing that he and I may have very different life experiences but we also have the same values and operate from the same principles," Harris said in the interview.
Harris declined to say exactly what she'd discussed with Biden in the lead-up to the trial's conclusion -- "I'm not going to talk about private conversations, of course" -- but she did provide a glimpse into her rapport with a President she spends hours with every day.
But Harris made clear the assignment was a request from Biden, not a dictate: "He asked me to do it.
"When President Joe Biden asked her, she did not hesitate," said one of those sources, who requested anonymity to discuss internal conversations.
Harris does plan to travel to Central America in June, officials said, and will meet virtually with leaders from Guatemala this week.
Still, for all the attention paid to Harris' assignment on immigration, it is her broader assignment as Biden's sounding board -- which, over the last weeks, has included racial issues -- that is emerging as her primary role inside the West Wing.
She regularly attends morning intelligence updates alongside Biden in the Oval Office, preferring to read the daily briefings on a secure iPad. In meetings with members of his Covid and economic teams, Harris has pressed senior advisers for progress reports on vaccinations and economic relief for vulnerable communities, a White House official said.
"Here's the truth about racial injustice," said Harris, speaking ahead of Biden from the same lectern after the verdict.
"I carry a great, great weight of responsibility knowing that there are so many people -- the generations of women who fought for and imagined that there would be a woman vice president or a woman on the ticket -- I think of that all the time in terms of the responsibility I have to hopefully make them proud," Harris told CNN.