Karine Jean-Pierre will be the new White House Press Secretary, President Joe Biden has announced, becoming the first Black and openly gay person to hold the high-profile job.
Jean-Pierre, 44, currently serves as the White House’s principal deputy press secretary and will replace Jen Psaki on May 13 as the face of the Biden administration.
“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,” President Biden said in a statement.
He also praised Psaki, saying she has “set the standard for returning decency, respect and decorum to the White House Briefing Room.” Press secretaries conduct daily news briefings with White House reporters.
She has served on the White House’s senior communications team since Biden took office in January 2021. Before that she was an adviser to his campaign and chief of staff to now-Vice President Kamala Harris.
At the White House briefing on Thursday, a visibly moved Psaki invited Jean-Pierre up to the podium with her and the two women embraced as Psaki went through Jean-Pierre’s qualifications and the significance of her taking the job.
“I just want to take the opportunity to celebrate and congratulate my friend, my colleague, my partner in truth, Karine Jean-Pierre, the next White House press secretary,” Psaki said.
“I am still processing it because, as Jen said, at the top this is a historic moment and 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,” Jean-Pierre said.
“It is an honour and a privilege to be behind this podium,” she said.
Jean-Pierre also took a moment to thank Psaki, who is taking up a job at the MSNBC cable news outlet.
“She has been just a wonderful colleague, a friend, a mentor, during this past year and a half and I don’t think I would be here without so many people, but including her and she is just just a true solid, amazing person,” Jean-Pierre said.
The groundbreaking announcement by Biden underscores his administration’s emphasis on putting Black women in positions of power.
Jean-Pierre joins Vice-President Harris, incoming Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, Domestic Policy Council chair Susan Rice, UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and a handful of other officials and judges in prominent roles.
Jean-Pierre is familiar with her new role. She is often in the room when Psaki briefs reporters, has filled in for her for at the lectern and has also gaggled with reporters travelling with Biden on Air Force One, CNN reported.
Born in Martinique and raised in New York, Jean-Pierre is a graduate of Columbia University. Jean-Pierre’s family includes her partner, CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, and their daughter.
Psaki’s departure is unsurprising, given she had been public about her plan to leave after one year on the job, the report said.
Several names had been under consideration to replace her, including Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, who has become a visible face of the administration in briefings and on cable television since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, the report added.