For the first time since President Joe Biden took office in January of last year, there will be a new mainstay face at the podium at the White House’s James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.
Biden announced Thursday that Karine Jean-Pierre will take the reins from Jen Psaki, becoming the first Black woman and openly gay person to serve as White House Press Secretary.
“Karine not only brings the experience, talent and integrity needed for this difficult job, but she will continue to lead the way in communicating about the work of the Biden-Harris Administration on behalf of the American people,” the president said in a statement. “Jill and I have known and respected Karine a long time and she will be a strong voice speaking for me and this Administration.”
Psaki announced the news alongside Jean-Pierre in the White House briefing room on Thursday, who said the two had been doing “a lot of crying” that day.
“I can’t wait to see you bring your own style and brilliance to this job,” the current press secretary said to wrap up the announcement. “Love you. I promise not to cry again, so that’s it.”
Jean-Pierre also reflected on her new and historic role.
“I am still processing it,” she said. “It’s not lost on me. I understand how important it is for so many people out there, so many different communities that I stand on their shoulders.”
“So it is an honor and a privilege to be behind this podium in about a week or so, when Jen is ready,” she added.
“That is something that I will honor and and do my best to represent this president and this first lady the best that I can, but also the American people. And so, you know, it’s a very emotional day.”
Jean-Pierre was born in Martinique, a French territory in the Caribbean, before moving to Queens Village in New York. She attended Kellenberg Memorial High School on Long Island before attending the New York Institute of Technology and Columbia University. After getting her masters at Columbia, she worked on the presidential campaigns of John Edwards and Barack Obama before going on to serve in the Obama Administration.
She later went on to work for Biden’s successful presidential campaign in 2020 before being tapped as Principal Deputy Press Secretary. In May of last year, Jean-Pierre became the first openly gay person ever, and the first Black woman in decades, to lead a White House press briefing.
Psaki, who has served as the White House spokesperson since Biden’s inauguration, will depart from her role on Friday, May 13. She has previously said that she would depart the White House at some point this year, and recent reports have suggested that she is mulling a new role with cable news outlet MSNBC.
“Jen Psaki has set the standard for returning decency, respect and decorum to the White House Briefing Room,” Biden said. “I want to say thank you to Jen for raising the bar, communicating directly and truthfully to the American people, and keeping her sense of humor while doing so. I thank Jen her service to the country, and wish her the very best as she moves forward.”
Psaki also said she has “a lot to say” about how grateful she is to the Bidens for allowing her to serve as the White House spokesperson, but said “this day is about” Jean-Pierre and took time to praise her “partner in truth.”
“Representation matters and she will give a voice to so many and show so many what is truly possible when you work hard and dream big, and that matters,” Psaki said of Jean-Pierre in the briefing room.
“One of the first conversations we had when we both found out we were getting these jobs was about how we wanted to build a drama free — on your best days — workplace where everybody worked hard, where we, on our best days, were rebuilding trust with the public,” Psaki concluded. “And I’m just so grateful to have had Karine by my side for this over the last 15 months, and I just can’t wait to see her shine at the podium.
Psaki then turned to begin one of her final briefings, where she began with an announcement about a Russian oligarch’s yacht.
“This is going to feel like an abrupt turn, but I’m going to give you an update on a Russian oligarch’s yacht that was seized,” she said to laughter from reporters.
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