Biden wants her “to be the first and the last in the room” on major decisions.
President-elect Joe Biden and his Indian American deputy Kamala Harris seem to have wiped their differences to align their positions since their election and have pledged to act as “full partners.”
Since the first day Biden asked her to join him on the Democratic presidential ticket, Harris said Thursday he has been “very clear with me that he wants me to be the first and the last in the room” on major decisions.
“So on every issue that impacts the American people, I will be a full partner to the President-elect and the President,” the Vice President elect told CNN in a joint interview with Biden.
As an example of their policy alignment CNN said Harris mirrored Biden’s position on how the administration would treat any potential investigations into President Donald Trump’s conduct after he leaves office.
Biden said his Justice Department will operate independently, and that he would not direct them on how or who to investigate.
“I’m not going to be saying go prosecute A, B or C — I’m not going to be telling them,” he said. “That’s not the role, it’s not my Justice Department it’s the people’s Justice Department.”
Harris, a former prosecutor who served as California’s attorney general, echoed that call for independence for the Justice Department.
“We will not tell the Justice Department how to do its job,” Harris said. “And we are going to assume, and I say this as a former attorney general elected in California … that any decision coming out of the Justice Department … should be based on facts, it should be based on the law, it should not be influenced by politics, period.”
Biden interjected: “And I guarantee you, that’s how it will be run.”
When CNN’s Jack Tapper asked Harris what her portfolio would be as vice president — whether she would head a covid-19 task force, for example, as Vice President Mike Pence has — Biden interrupted to say he would answer the question.
He said he planned to enlist Harris on whatever the most urgent need was at a given moment, much as he did for President Barack Obama as vice president.
“Whatever the most urgent need is that I’m not able to attend to, I have confidence in turning to her,” Biden said, noting that was dissimilar from former Vice President Al Gore’s approach, which was to handle an entire issue portfolio like the environment.
“Look, there’s not a single decision I’ve made yet about personnel or about how to proceed that I haven’t discussed it with Kamala first.”
Biden also pledged to honor his “commitment that the administration, both in the White House and outside in the Cabinet, is going to look like the country.”
When pressed on both the racial and ideological diversity, Harris said, “We’re not done yet. … We’re not even halfway there.”
There were a host of lighter moments in the interview, too.
Harris, joked about how some of her husband’s friends have taken to calling him “the second dude,” even as Doug Emhoff is expected to be referred to as the “second gentleman.”
“You’ll call him the second gentleman,” Tapper asked.
“No,” Harris responded: “I’ll call him honey.”
READ: Biden says Kamala Harris is ‘smart as a devil’ (October 26, 2020)
Meanwhile, The Hill said unlike Bill Clinton’s Vice President Al Gore, who was particularly identified with specific issues, including the environment and government reform, Harris “will seek a more wide-ranging role.”
It cited an unnamed transition official as noting that Biden had spoken of Harris as having the same status as he did with then-President Barack Obama: the last person in the room for the big decisions.
“She is going to be that person for him. This is a partnership, this is a team,” the transition official said.
“She wants to model it very similarly to how [Biden] was a vice president to President Obama. They are working together, it’s a partnership, they are frequently in contact.”
People in and around the Biden-Harris camp also make clear that it is too early to put a particularly sharp definition on what Harris’s role will be, the Hill said.
The Hill also cited Joel Goldstein, a professor emeritus at Saint Louis University as saying Harris could reach parts of the Democratic constituency — and the nation — that are not so easily accessible for Biden.
“I think there are going to be a lot of demands on her because she is the first woman elected to national office in our history, and the first woman of color,” he added.
“There may be a focus that she takes there, because of her own interests and also because of her credibility.”