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Jamal Simmons speaks onstage at Ad Week 2016. Photo: John Lamparski/Getty Images for Advertising Week New York

Vice President Kamala Harris will select Jamal Simmons, a top Democratic Party operative and communications aide, to serve as her new communications director after Ashley Etienne's departure last year, a WH official confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: Simmons is a respected Dem player and allies say that his relationships with the West Wing, journalists and leaders throughout the party will help him shape Harris' long-term goals and legacy. The news was first reported by The Hill.

The backdrop: Harris has faced intense scrutiny throughout her time as VP, which has picked up as her office has gone through several recent staff changes.

  • In addition to Etienne, Harris' press secretary Symone Sanders also left within the first year.
  • This week, Peter Velz — Harris’ director of press operations, announced he was leaving to join the State Department.
  • Another senior Harris aide, Vincent Evans, is leaving to become executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, Bloomberg reported.

Go deeper: Harris' team is also searching for a Hispanic outreach director, Axios' Hans Nichols scooped, in an effort to shore up her political standing among various Democratic Party factions.

Go deeper

Harris: “I don’t think about” whether Biden will run in 2024

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris said Wednesday that she and President Biden have not spoken about re-election plans and she doesn't "think about it."

Driving the news: "We do not talk about nor have we talked about re-election, because we haven't completed our first year and we're in the middle of a pandemic," Harris said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Harris a year after Jan. 6 riot: "If we're not vigilant" democracy will fail

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks from Statuary Hall at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris warned Thursday of the fragility of democracy, saying, "if we are not vigilant, if we do not defend it, democracy simply will not stand" on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Driving the news: "The strength of democracy is the rule of law," Harris said, while also advocating for the expansion of voting rights, saying, "We must pass the voting rights bills that are now before the Senate. We cannot sit on the sidelines. We must unite in defense of our democracy."

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

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