WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden on Thursday named Caryn Jean-Pierre the next White House spokeswoman, the first black woman and openly LGBTQ to take on the role. Incumbent President Jen Psaki is set to resign next week.
Jean-Pierre takes on the role when the White House faces a tough battle to help Democrats hold the House and Senate in the by-elections this falland how the administration is trying to decide Americans are concerned about rising inflation and the state of the economy. She also enters work when Biden faces a number of foreign policy challenges, including current Russian invasion of Ukraine and the escalation of North Korea’s nuclear test program. Biden is set on visit South Korea and Japan later this month and Europe in June.
Biden also returns as senior adviser to longtime Democratic strategist Anita Dunn. Last year, she worked at Biden’s White House a few months after Biden was sworn in.
“Karin not only brings the experience, talent and honesty 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 statement said, praising Biden. Jean-Pierre, who since his inauguration has served as his chief deputy spokesman.
Psaki, who leaves the White House on May 13, praised her successor as a “partner in truth,” noting the importance of the purpose that creates history.
“Representation matters, and it is going to give a voice to many and show many that it is really possible if you work hard and dream of great things,” said Psaki.
On Thursday, when Psaki informed the press, Jean-Pierre said she was “still considering” the importance of her hiring, calling it “an honor and a privilege to be behind this podium.”
“It’s a historic moment and I don’t forget,” she said. “It’s a very emotional day.”
Psaki said Biden offered Jean-Pierre a job Thursday at the Oval Office. White House staff gathered after the offer and greeted Jean-Pierre with applause, the official said. Two “warm bottles” of champagne were purchased for toast in White House paper cups, the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe the inside meeting.
Jean-Pierre occasionally held the chair in the press briefing hall instead of Psaki and more often kept out of the camera “catching up” with reporters when Biden was riding on Air Force One. She traveled with Biden to Europe last fall and in March instead of Psaki, who had a positive COVID-19 test before both trips.
Prior to Biden’s presidential campaign, Jean-Pierre was the progressive group’s chief public relations officer. MoveOn.org and a former NBC and MSNBC political analyst. She also worked on political issues in the Obama White House and in his re-election campaign.
The spokesperson is responsible for daily briefings with the media and heads the department with more than a dozen staff members who help respond to press inquiries.
When she entered the job, Psaki, who has two young children, publicly stated that she aspires to stay at work for about a year. She is expected to join MSNBC later this year. She was expected to remain a public figure in the administration until her departure next Friday.
Biden said Psaki “set the standard for returning decency, respect and decency to the White House briefing hall.”
“I want to thank Jen for raising the bar, talking directly and truthfully to the American people and maintaining a sense of humor,” Biden said. “I thank Jen for her service to the country and wish her all the best as she moves forward.”
Dan is a partner at Democratic consulting firm SKDK, and was also a senior adviser on Biden’s 2020 election campaign, and was previously chief strategist and communications director for President Barack Obama. The White House said she was returning to “help promote the president’s policies and communication goals.”
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