Vice President Kamala Harris hosted German Chancellor Angela Merkel for breakfast Thursday at her Naval Observatory home, marking the first time she’s hosted a foreign leader at the residence.
‘We are pleased to welcome you Madam Chancellor and I know we are the fourth administration that you have worked with throughout your extraordinary career. want to thank you for your years of leadership,’ Harris told Merkel outside the vice president’s residence. ‘I’m very proud that I believe that I am the first vice president to host you at the official residence of the vice president,’ Harris added.
The home at One Observatory Circle was under renovation when Harris was sworn-in in January, but she’s used it more recently to host a staff barbecue following reports of a toxic culture brewing at the VP’s office.
Business Insider published a follow-up story quoting former Harris aides as they reacted to Politico’s initial report that described, according to one source, the vice president’s office as an ‘abusive environment.’
One former Harris staffer forwarded the Politico piece to their therapist with a note attached: ‘Rarely in life are we publicly vindicated.’ The aide said staffers went to therapy to ‘resolve trauma from the on-the-job abuse’ after finding out Harris would be the vice presidential nominee.
Other ex-aides stuck up for Harris and her management style. An ex-staffer from her days as California’s attorney general called the coverage ‘totally inevitable.’
‘We could have foreseen this scrutiny,’ the aide told Insider. ‘We could have foreseen this scrutiny. It seems to me to be more gendered, the idea that strong women are b***hes and she’s just another one.’
The reports haven’t impacted President Joe Biden putting Harris front-and-center on a number of issues.
She met with the delegation of Texas Democrats who fled the state earlier this week to stall a GOP-endorsed voting bill.
And, as the administration has done in the past, she’s played the role of greeter for a foreign leader visit, though at the beginning of her tenure she met with leaders virtually due to the pandemic and then at her ceremonnial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, while the Naval Observatory residence was under renovation.
On Thursday morning, she and Merkel made brief welcoming remarks in front of the cameras.
‘I’m very honored to see you and I look forward to our conversation and it goes without saying that the relationship between our two countries is one founded on many shared values, including a commitment to democracy around the world,’ Harris said. ‘So, welcome, welcome.’
Through a translator Merkel responded, ‘I can only say that I’m delighted too for this opportunity here to meet the first Madam Vice President of the United States of America and I think that we can indeed cooperate very well in order to boost values.’
‘Please, let’s have breakfast please,’ Harris said, escorting the German chancellor into the home.
The menu consisted of a gruyère soufflé, served with an arugula salad, featuring herbs from the residence’s garden, along with fresh seasonal fruit.
The leaders were also served fresh baked sourdough bread, prosciutto, salami, cucumber, as well as coffee and orange juice.
Afterward a White House official said the two women had a ‘wide-ranging and very candid discussion.’
‘Topics crossed both domestic and international issues including current challenges, history between the two counties and future endeavors,’ the official said.
The German embassy in Washington tweeted a photo of the two female leaders meeting simply labeling it, ‘History.’
Merkel’s visit to the White House marks what’s likely her last trip to the U.S. as the German leader with elections coming in September.
Merkel is not seeking another term.
She will arrive at the White House for afternoon meetings with Biden and then will participate in a press conference.
Biden will then host the chancellor for a private dinner Thursday night at the White House.