Psaki charges sexism and racism are part of what's driving criticism of Kamala Harris

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she feels that sexism and racism have contributed to the intensity of criticism faced by Vice President Kamala Harris.

“I do think that it has been easier and harsher from some in the right wing who have gone after her because she is the first woman, the first woman of color. I’m not suggesting anyone will acknowledge that publicly,” Psaki said during an appearance on Politico’s “Women Rule” podcast Wednesday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Psaki said that Harris bears a heavy burden being the “first African American, woman of color, Indian American woman to serve in this job,” but that she “wants to be seen” more for her role as a trusted expert and adviser to President Biden.

“I mean, so many firsts, right? It’s a lot to have on your shoulders,” Psaki said. “She is somebody who, at a much higher level than the rest of us, but who wants to be seen as the talented, experienced, you know, expert, substantive policy person, partner to the president, that she is. But I do think there have been some attacks that are beyond because of her identity.”

Vice President Kamala Harris.

Psaki’s defense of the vice president comes after CNN sparked controversy by publishing a story that claimed Biden’s White House is fed up with Harris and her “entrenched dysfunction and lack of focus.”

Best-selling author Don Winslow called the story “racist and misogynistic,” while former Democratic congressional nominee Pam Keith said, “The reason Kamala Harris is being attacked is because she is a Black woman in high office… and many many people who would swear they aren’t racist or sexist, can only cope with and accept Black women, if they are in subordinate roles.”

Psaki also took to Twitter to defend Harris after the article was published, calling the vice president “a vital partner” to Biden.

US Vice President Kamala Harris. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
(MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

“For anyone who needs to hear it. @VP is not only a vital partner to @POTUS but a bold leader who has taken on key, important challenges facing the country — from voting rights to addressing root causes of migration to expanding broadband,” she tweeted.

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