While Ms. Flournoy’s appointment was seen as ensuring a grown-up will be in charge of Ms. Harris’s office, she is not without critics, who said she did not always have the right instincts to protect Mr. Clinton from politically damaging moments.
Many aides in Mrs. Clinton’s orbit hold Ms. Flournoy responsible for Mr. Clinton’s ill-fated airport tarmac meeting with Loretta E. Lynch, in June 2016, when Ms. Lynch was the attorney general and the F.B.I. was looking into the circumstances around Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state.
Mr. Clinton was wrapping up a sweltering day on the campaign trail in Phoenix in support of his wife’s presidential run when the Secret Service alerted Ms. Flournoy and other staff members that Ms. Lynch’s government plane was parked next to his. Ms. Flournoy said the former president, often eager to catch up with friends, acquaintances and even political rivals, would want to say hello to Ms. Lynch, according to a person with knowledge of the events.
Ms. Lynch, who had a foot injury at the time, invited Mr. Clinton onto her plane to escape the heat, and Ms. Flournoy did not stop him from boarding alone, explaining that he and the attorney general should have some privacy.
When the meeting became known it touched off a firestorm of Republican criticism and Ms. Lynch ended up recusing herself from overseeing the email investigation, announcing that she would rely instead on the F.B.I. That set the stage for James B. Comey, the bureau’s director, to make a public statement sharply critical of Mrs. Clinton even as he announced she would not be charged.
Angel Ureña, a spokesman for Mr. Clinton, disputed that Ms. Flournoy was in any way responsible for the tarmac incident and said that she had the support of those who worked with her.
“I’ve worked for Tina for nearly eight years, so I’m pretty well positioned to say where my colleagues and I stand, which is behind her,” Mr. Ureña said. “We love and respect her, will miss her and have absolutely no doubt that she’ll be nothing but an asset to the vice president-elect and the country.”