Biden admin officials ‘perplexed’ at Harris’ performance during Central America trip
Biden administration officials are “quietly perplexed” about Vice President Harris’ fumbling multiple questions about the border and are concerned her unforced errors will overshadow her first international trip, according to a report.
Speaking to CNN, administration officials discussed how the question of visiting the border dogged Harris for the whole trip, with her answer to NBC News’ Lester Holt stealing the spotlight from her work.
“At some point, you know, we are going to the border,” a defensive Harris told Holt on “Today” in Guatemala — 1,308 miles away from the southern U.S.-Mexico crossing.
“We’ve been to the border. So this whole thing about the border, we’ve been to the border,” Harris said, to which Holt replied, “You haven’t been to the border.”
Harris, seeming to laugh at her own joke, responded: “And I haven’t been to Europe. And I mean, I don’t understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border.”
Administration officials told CNN there was “a real hope” that the trip would be a success, and voiced their concern that “what looked like ill-prepared answers to that inevitable question would overshadow it.”
While the sources weren’t going as far as to call the trip a failure, the individuals conceded that the soundbite would likely continue to be used by her critics.
The network also reported that the VP’s team expressed their frustration “by what they perceive to be questioning driven by Republican attacks falsely painting her as the administration’s border czar, rather than focused on the root causes of migration.”
A rep for Harris did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment on the report.
The Biden administration’s undoing of former President Donald Trump’s border policies has prompted a flood of Central American and Mexican illegal migrants at the US border, including thousands of unescorted children.
Central Americans looking for refuge from the Northern Triangle countries — Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras — have taken these policy moves, as well as the overwhelmingly more welcoming tone from Democrats, as a sign that Biden is inviting them to cross the border.
Insisting that the border was not facing a crisis, administration officials have claimed that the problems at the border should be blamed on the previous administration.
The data, however, overwhelmingly shows that migrants were flooding the border because they believed Biden would welcome them with open arms.
As the crisis heated up, Biden tapped his vice president in March to address the “root causes” of the record surge of illegal immigration.
The issue of going in person to surveil the crisis dogged Harris throughout her mission abroad.
On Monday, Harris dismissed a reporter’s question at a press conference in Guatemala regarding why she hasn’t visited the southern border, saying that such a trip would just be a “grand gesture.”
While on the ground in Mexico City on Tuesday, a reporter asked Harris why, given the proximity, she wouldn’t stop by the border on her way back to Washington.
“I’ve been to the border before. I will go again,” Harris insisted. “But when I’m in Guatemala dealing with root causes, I think we should have a conversation about what’s going on in Guatemala.”
At a Tuesday evening press conference in Mexico City, Harris was asked two more times about when she would visit the border.
“I will and I have before,” Harris said at first, noting that she is from California and that she would visit again “soon.” When a different reporter asked “how soon,” Harris talked past the inquiry, saying “the issue of root causes is not going to be solved in one trip that took two days,” referring to the trip she was currently on.
Harris has faced pressure for months to take a visit to the crossing. Two days before she was named as Biden’s illegal immigration czar in March, she laughed on an airport runway and said “not today!” when asked if she would visit the crossing.