WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Thursday named Karine Jean-Pierre the new White House press secretary to replace Jen Psaki, who will leave the role at the end of next week.
Jean-Pierre, currently the White House’s principal deputy press secretary, will become the first Black woman and also first openly LGBTQ person to hold the high-profile position. Psaki’s last day will be on May 13.
Psaki, the most prominent face of the Biden administration since day one, has reportedly been in talks to join MSNBC. Her departure comes as Biden has languished under low approval ratings amid rising inflation and as Democrats face major headwinds to retain power in Congress.
“Karine not only brings the experience, talent and integrity needed for this difficult job,” Biden said in a statement, “but she will continue to lead the way in communicating about the work of the Biden-Harris Administration on behalf of the American people.”
More:Jen Psaki in talks to leave White House press secretary job for MSNBC, according to reports
Prior to joining the White House, Jean-Pierre worked as chief public affairs officer for MoveOn.org and as an NBC and MSNBC political analyst. She was regional political director for the White House Office of Political Affairs during the Obama-Biden administration and deputy battleground states director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
“This is a historic moment, and it’s not lost on me,” Jean-Pierre said, describing an “emotional day” and thanking the president and Psaki, whom she called a friend and mentor. “It is an honor and a privilege to be at this podium.”
Psaki choked up as she congratulated Jean-Pierre – whom she called her “partner in truth” – and welcomed her to the podium to kick off Thursday’s press briefing.
“Representation matters and she will give a voice to so many and allow and show so many what is truly possible when you work hard and dream big,” Psaki said. She called her successor a “remarkable person” who comes to the job with decades of experience. “I just can’t wait to see her shine at the podium.”
The White House also announced longtime Biden confidant Anita Dunn will return as a senior adviser and assistant to the president. After joining the White House last year, Dunn moved back to SKDK, a political consulting firm where she is partner and founding member.
In the most visible role in the administration, Psaki gained a cult following online for her pointed exchanges with reporters and sharp delivery. Jean-Pierre led White House press briefings multiple times in Psaki’s absence.
Psaki is in line to host a show for MSNBC on NBC Universal’s streaming platform, Peacock, according to Axios, and would not replace MSNBC star host Rachel Maddow in the 9 p.m. ET hour as some have speculated. She would also be a contributor to live programming on various MSNBC shows.
Psaki, who has said she looks forward to spending more time with her family, declined to discuss her future professional plans.
Biden thanked Psaki in a statement for “raising the bar, communicating directly and truthfully to the American people, and keeping her sense of humor while doing so.” The president said Psaki “set the standard for returning decency, respect and decorum to the White House Briefing Room.”
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_