NATIONAL NEWS

Karine Jean-Pierre to become White House press secretary, the first Black and LGBTQ person in the role

May 5, 2022, 3:43 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:15 pm
Leah Millis/Reuters...
Leah Millis/Reuters

(CNN) — Karine Jean-Pierre will become the new White House press secretary when Jen Psaki departs her role next week, President Joe Biden announced in a statement Thursday, becoming the first Black and out LGBTQ person to hold the position.

Jean-Pierre currently serves as the White House’s principal deputy 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,” Biden said in a statement, adding that “Jen Psaki has set the standard for returning decency, respect and decorum to the White House Briefing Room.”

Jean-Pierre will formally begin following Psaki’s last day, which will be May 13. CNN reported in April that Psaki was planning on leaving her role for one at MSNBC.

Last May, Jean-Pierre became the second Black woman in history to hold the daily press briefing. She has served on the White House’s senior communications team since Biden took office and before that was an adviser to his campaign and chief of staff to now-Vice President Kamala Harris.

Jean-Pierre’s family includes her partner, CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, and their daughter.

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 traveling with Biden on Air Force One. Recently, she replaced Psaki at the last minute for Biden’s four-day trip to Europe amid the Russian invasion after Psaki tested positive for Covid-19 the day before Biden was scheduled to leave.

Psaki’s departure is unsurprising, given she had been public about her plan to leave after one year on the job. 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.

Psaki on Twitter said she was “grateful” to Biden and first lady Jill Biden, and described Jean-Pierre as a “remarkable woman.”

“Representation matters and she will give a voice to many, but also make many dream big about what is truly possible,” Psaki wrote.

Psaki added, “I can’t wait to see her shine as she brings her own style, brilliance and grace to the podium.”

 

Close Biden adviser returns to White House

 

The staffing shakeup in the press office comes as the White House is making several other personnel moves in preparation for a potential Republican takeover on Capitol Hill in the midterm elections. One of Biden’s closest advisers, Anita Dunn, will return to the West Wing as a senior adviser, as his team also shores up the White House counsel’s office, given Republicans have promised to launch a slew of investigations if they retake the majority.

Dunn is permanently leaving her consulting firm, SKDK, people familiar with the matter tell CNN. She will no longer be a partner in the firm or listed on the company’s website, people familiar with the matter say.

While Dunn no longer owns a piece of the firm, after it was sold in 2015, her role as a top strategist to Biden, former President Barack Obama and many other elected Democratic officials has given SKDK significant prominence in Washington and beyond. During the presidential campaign and the first several months of the Biden administration, Dunn took a leave of absence from the firm. But given the new role at the White House, people familiar with the matter say, she is severing ties with the firm.

An official says Dunn will now be a full-time staff member, and — as with any other full-time staff member — will sign the ethics pledge, file an OGE 278 and be subject to all White House ethics and conflict of interest rules, including “rigorous counseling” on her ethics obligations.

This story has been updated with additional developments on Thursday.

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Karine Jean-Pierre to become White House press secretary, the first Black and LGBTQ person in the role