In a stunning development, the Washington Examiner reported Saturday that two high-ranking aides to Vice President Kamala Harris have made plans to step down.
According to the Examiner, both advance team director Karly Satkowiak as well as her deputy director, Gabrielle DeFranceschi, will leave their respective positions in the weeks to come.
The announcement of the resignations comes following a trip that Harris made with Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to El Paso, Texas, last week, ostensibly to get a firsthand look at an ongoing migration crisis.
Although an unidentified spokesperson told the Examiner that the staffers’ departures had been previously planned and were unrelated to Harris’ recent visit, the criticism that she has received may lead some to believe otherwise.
As the Examiner noted, Harris took flak after her trip from members of both sides of the political aisle who said she avoided the biggest problem spots by visiting El Paso, rather than another spot along the U.S.–Mexico line.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, charged in a tweet that the vice president “didn’t talk to Texans whose homes have been invaded, who’ve had guns brandished against them, whose property has been destroyed by gangs [and] cartel members coming across the border.”
Meanwhile, Texas Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar told Fox News on Thursday that by going to El Paso, Harris was trying to keep the spotlight off more badly affected regions.
“I’m sure her planners told her that if you’re going to go down to the border, go to something that’s safer to go to, that is, politically safer,” Cuellar said, according to the Examiner.
“The epicenter is down there in the Lower Rio Grande, the lower part of my district down there,” the Democrat added. “If you look at the numbers that are down there compared to El Paso, you’re not going to get a true picture of what’s happening.”
“Well, you know…”
According to Fox, Mayorkas was asked during a later appearance on CBS This Morning why Harris had not stopped at nearby Fort Bliss during her recent trip. The military base is being used as a holding center for unaccompanied minors, and internal emails obtained by the El Paso Times referred to chronic overcrowding and “traumatizing” conditions.
Mayorkas reportedly responded that the facility was being overseen by Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra rather than Harris.
Pressed further, the Homeland Security secretary doubled down. “Well, you know we had quite a bit to see and we were able to meet with the CBP, the Customs and Border Protection personnel, both in the central processing center and the port of entry,” he said, according to Fox. “The vice president was able to meet with migrant children and understand why they fled their home in desperation.”