Kamala’s husband Harris Doug Emhoff is adjusting to life in Washington

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff has an office in the White House next to the room where his wife Kamala Harris holds roundtables and formal events. However, seeing her in the afternoon is sometimes difficult.

Harris usually works from his office in the West Wing, and the couple can’t talk on cell phones the way it was before she became vice president.

Sometimes the couple bump into each other happily in the hallways of the Eisenhower executive office building, which serves as the main workplace for most White House staffers and is home to the vice president’s ceremonial office. Harris is also trying to drive into her husband’s office when she is there, Emgoff’s aides said.

But more often than not, when Emhoff wants to talk to Harris, he asks his staff to find out if his wife has time to meet. He and his security staff then take a short walk down the narrow street that separates the building in which he works from the main body of the White House complex, where each president and vice president have offices.

Emgoff’s life changed dramatically for almost 13 months since Harris was sworn in as vice president. He is no longer allowed to write to Garris. He can’t drive his wife to work. He could not leave his home alone because of security concerns and he abandoned the practice of the law.

“For him, it’s a transition,” said Emgoff’s friend and lawyer David Lash. “He is very, very dedicated and especially focused on helping his wife as much as he can and helping the administration as much as possible.”

Emhoff is officially part of the White House, except that he is not a civil servant. He is not paid for his efforts and has limited access to government resources.

Unlike his wife, he does not have a special government plane. He can transport military aircraft to remote locations or when time is short, but by default he travels for commercial purposes or with other high-ranking administration officials such as First Lady Jill Biden.

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Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, and First Lady Jill Biden arrive before President Joe Biden signs a $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill during a ceremony on the White House South Lawn in Washington on November 15, 2021. Susan Walsh AP

Observations of assistants, friends, colleagues

In a dozen interviews, Harris and Emhoff’s current and former aides, friends and former colleagues said that Emhoff, an entertainment lawyer until Harris was elected, takes things in stride. They said the transplant in California sought to create a new identity for themselves as Georgetown’s law professor and exemplary husband.

“There’s a lot to do and a lot to balance,” said John Besler, a law professor at the University of Baltimore who is married to Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and met Emgoff during the presidential campaign.

“Like anything, he’s preparing for it and trying to pave the way forward,” Besler said.

Emhoff is still getting used to the level of fame that goes hand in hand with the fact that he is the first husband-wife of the president or vice president. Although he declined to be interviewed through aides for the article, people close to the second couple acknowledged that for 57-year-old Harris, to achieve his political aspirations, Emhoff had to make significant personal and professional sacrifices. .

Harris’s friends are sympathetic to the fact that Emhoff, who is also 57 years old and has two adult children – Cole and Ella from a previous marriage – has refused to support his wife’s career.

“He’s personified by kindness,” said Star Jones, a lawyer and media personality who has been friends with Harris for more than 30 years. “He is a good man who supports and loves his woman. To look at him, to look at her, from a woman’s point of view, is really wonderful. “

Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff kiss during an event in the East Hall of the White House in Washington to light a menorah for the Hanukkah celebration, December 1, 2021. Susan Walsh AP

Harris was twice elected Attorney General of California when the couple met. A few months later, she announced her application to the U.S. Senate they married at an intimate ceremony in the courthouse and nominated his candidacy for president four years later.

Lash recalled how Emgoff once asked to postpone dinner: “And I read in the paper that on the day we were supposed to have lunch with him, he married the Attorney General.”

Emhoff saw his future as a second gentleman when Harris ran for president in 2019. Friends of the couple and Harris ’former aides said that in order for Emhoff to see time with his wife, he would travel to election forums and debates with the then-senator from California.

According to them, the pandemic helped the couple find a more normal routine until Biden singled out Harris as a partner. Although he worked hard, Emhoff, who at the time was a partner at the global law firm DLA Piper, drove Harris to the U.S. Capitol to vote. He will be waiting for her outside along with Senate staff and other spouses who played with their partners, people familiar with the arrangement said.

“He’s just so fond of Kamala that I think it’s very warm. When you’re with him and you’re with them, you feel it right away, “said Yasmin Nelson, a former assistant to Harris.

Work in food pantries, fight against anti-Semitism

Emgof’s support for his wife this year has extended to his annual resolution. He said on twitter that during a long campaign he pondered how he could support the country and help Harris and her boss, President Joe Biden, in their governance efforts.

Assistants to the second gentleman said he would continue to build for himself a unique set of issues. He volunteered in food depots, participated in legal aid activities, and promoted pediatrics. Vaccination against COVID-19 and is increasingly using its platform to oppose anti-Semitism.

“His work focuses on his passion for justice and the justice he shares with the vice president,” said Emhof Chief of Staff Julie Mason.

The hostage crisis at the Beth Israel Congregation Synagogue in Coliville, Texas, last month marked some shift for Emhof, who is the first Jewish wife of the president or vice president and has acted as an envoy to the Jewish community from the White House.

“In our country, if not in the world, there is now a real epidemic of hatred,” Emhoff said at a meeting with Jewish leaders in Wisconsin a week after the confrontation. “And anti-Semitism is part of that.”

A few days earlier, Emhof, along with AmeriCorps volunteers, helped collect prepackaged bags of groceries, toiletries and dry goods at a Jewish family pantry in Los Angeles.

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Vice President Kamala Harris (right) with her husband Doug Emgoff fill their bags with fruit and other items at Martha’s table on Monday, January 17, 2022, in Washington. Alex Brandon AP

Nancy Wolpert, director of public policy and strategic initiatives for the Jewish community, said the crisis in Coliville had given extra meaning to her interaction with Emgof and more importance to his Jewish heritage.

“It’s a pretty big barrier that needs to be broken,” Wolpert said. “The vice president broke a huge glass ceiling, and it’s incredibly exciting when one of the Californians watched her and introduced her. But they were both making cracks in the ceilings, which, I don’t think we were all sure it could happen. ”

Emgoff’s approach to the role was in many ways similar to his recent predecessors, although he is of the opposite sex, said Colin Shogan, senior vice president of the White House Historical Association. However, Shogan said his religious background makes him unique, and the rise of Jewish holidays means a change in the role of the second spouse.

The vice presidents ’spouses have expanded their role through increasing public appointments since Pat Nixon took the title of second lady in the 1950s, Shogan said, and Emhoff continued to develop that model.

Shogan said the current iteration of the position emerged after Congress in 1978 allowed the vice president to authorize a husband or close family member to spend public funds, paving the way for Barbara Bush to hire staff and hold events during her time. vice-president of the husband.

A spokeswoman for the second gentleman, Katie Peters, said Emhoff “finds areas where he can connect with communities on a personal level”, drawing on his experience as a father, a lawyer and a Jew.

“I see that his background plays a role in what he’s doing now, both in terms of how he contributes to that role and how I think he will continue to develop it,” said Mason, head of the department. Emhoff headquarters.

Lash said that Emhoff “will feel a great responsibility not only to his wife, and not only to the administration, but also to his own pioneering man” as the first man and the second Jew.

“All his life, his faith has been very important to him, it has played a significant role in his life, and it is only natural that it will continue to be so. Now a lot more attention is focused on that, but I think it’s a very consistent part of his life, ”Lash said.

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Doug Emhoff, the second gentleman of the United States, reacts to the fact that on September 18, 2021 in Washington on September 18, 2021, he rejected the ceremonial first serve before the baseball game between the Washington National and the Rockies of Colorado. Nick you AP

Francesco Chambers has illuminated the White House for more than five years during two presidencies. In 2016, she was included in the company of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. She is a native of Kansas City and graduated from the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Kansas.

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