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Karine Jean-Pierre will be President Biden’s next White House press secretary, the administration announced last week.
Jean-Pierre, currently serving as the principal deputy press secretary, is set to be the first Black and openly gay person to regularly lead the daily press briefings.
She will take over the podium when Psaki parts ways with the Biden administration at the end of this week. Psaki is set to join MSNBC and have her own program on the Peacock streaming service.
Here are ten things to know about the new White House press secretary:
Her lengthy resumé in Democratic politics
Jean-Pierre began her career in Democratic politics by working as director of legislative and budget affairs for New York City Council Member James Gennaro after she finished school in 2003. She took her first job on the campaign trail as the southeast regional political director for John Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign.
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She then joined Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and later joined the Obama administration serving in the White House Office of Political Affairs.
In 2011, Jean-Pierre was appointed as the National Deputy Battleground States Director for Obama’s re-election campaign. In 2016, she joined Martin O’Malley’s presidential campaign as the deputy campaign manager; O’Malley was a non-factor in the race that ended up being a tougher-than-expected fight between Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.
After O’Malley dropped out of the Democratic primary, Jean-Pierre joined the liberal activist group MoveOn.org as a senior adviser until she joined the Biden campaign in May 2020 as a senior adviser and later the chief of staff for then vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris.
Following the 2020 election, Jean-Pierre was tapped as part of an all-female senior White House communications team.
Deep media ties
During the Trump administration, Jean-Pierre made frequent appearances as a Democratic commentator on CNN and MSNBC. In 2019, she was formally hired by MSNBC as a contributor.
However, what could raise ethical questions down the road as she becomes the next White House press secretary is her relationship with her longtime partner, Suzanne Malveaux, a CNN national correspondent and anchor. She and Malveaux adopted a daughter together.
Psaki’s last six weeks in the briefing room have been marred with criticism during reports of her negotiations with MSNBC in a post-White House career, fueling concerns of biased treatment favoring her future NBC colleagues.
Protected Kamala Harris from an unruly protester
Jean-Pierre was swept up in a viral moment in 2019 while emceeing MoveOn.org’s Democratic candidate forum.
During a discussion with then-candidate Kamala Harris, an animal-rights protester rushed the stage and snatched the microphone from the future VP.
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“Hey, hey, hey, hey,” Jean-Pierre shouted at the protester as she stood up from her chair.
She then physically blocked the protester from confronting Harris as he began ranting into the microphone. Moments later, the protester was forced off the stage by a group that included Harris’ husband Douglas Emhoff.
Suggested Trump could start a ‘horrible civil war’
Jean-Pierre has a lengthy history of calling former President Trump a “racist” both on Twitter and on TV.
“Donald Trump put his hand on the Bible… and took the oath of the presidency to be a president for all of us,” Jean-Pierre said in 2019 on MSNBC. “And since that day, since that moment, every hour, he seems to just prove that to be wrong, right? He is not a president for Black people. He’s not a president for women. He’s not a president for brown people. He’s not a president for the LGBTQ community. He chooses to just double down and triple down on bigotry and racism.”
“I don’t know where Donald Trump wants to take this. But wherever it is, it’s going to be dangerous. It could lead to some sort of a horrible civil war,” she later added.
Fueled the Russian collusion narrative
Like many Democrats, Jean-Pierre was onboard with fueling the collusion narrative between Russia and the Trump campaign in the early years of Trump’s presidency, particularly on Twitter.
Starting back in December 2016, Jean-Pierre appeared to agree with outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who claimed the Trump campaign “was in on” Russia’s interference in the election.
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“Flynn, Manafort and The Donald himself (inviting Russia to partake in espionage on our election) #PutinLoveAffair” she reacted.
Responding to Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos’s guilty plea in October 2017 for lying to the FBI, she tagged Trump’s Twitter account and told him, “here is your COLLUSION!!” In January 2018, she similarly wrote, “Collision, delusion = Donald Trump.”
Jean-Pierre repeatedly suggested Trump was serving at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling Trump his “puppet” and claiming Putin “has always had control over Trump” in July 2018.
Joined the outrage mob against Brett Kavanaugh
President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh was hit with uncorroborated accusations of sexual misconduct during his stormy 2018 confirmation process, and Jean-Pierre was quick to pile on.
“Brett Kavanaugh should not be coaching girls basketball,” Jean-Pierre wrote in one tweet.
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Responding to a piece from The Root titled, “Brett Kavanaugh Thinks Being a Virgin Means You Can’t Sexually Assault Anyone,” she replied, “If Brett Kavanaugh indeed does not know the difference between intercourse and sexual assault — that alone should disqualify him to be a Supreme Court Justice.”
She even elevated the gang-rape allegations from Julie Swetnick, responding to NBC News’ interview with Michael Avenatti’s client tweeting, “Julie Swetnick, 3rd Brett Kavanaugh accuser tells @nbc that he was a ‘very mean drunk.'” Swetnick, represented by disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti, eventually changed her story from her initial sworn statement, and the claim is broadly viewed as salacious and discredited.
Claimed the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election was ‘stolen’ from Stacey Abrams
Stacey Abrams acknowledged she didn’t win but never officially conceded her Georgia gubernatorial defeat against her GOP rival Brian Kemp in 2018, drawing criticism from conservatives that she was questioning the integrity of her own election.
Among those who believed the Georgia election was “stolen” from Abrams, in a year with record midterm turnout, was Jean-Pierre.
Responding to Kemp’s remarks in April 2020 about not knowing asymptomatic people could spread COVID, she tweeted, “Reminder: Brian Kemp stole the gubernatorial election from Georgians and Stacey Abrams.”
Repeatedly praised Andrew Cuomo during the pandemic
Jean-Pierre was a big fan of Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.
She tweeted out several moments from his daily briefings. One tweet from March 2020 read, “New York Governor Andrew Cuomo actually sounds like a leader — ‘If you are going to be upset, be upset at me. I made these decisions,’” adding, “State and local leaders/officials are the real leaders in this #CoronavirusOutbreak.”
She appeared giddy over Cuomo’s tweet dunking on Trump with the governor telling the president, “Happy to do your job, too. Just give me control of the Army Corps of Engineers and I’ll take it from there.”
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“Cuomo – 10000000000000000000, Trump – negative 0,” Jean-Pierre reacted.
Missing from her tweets was any mention of Cuomo’s involvement in the nursing home scandal that may have led to the deaths of thousands of elderly New Yorkers as the result of his policy forcing COVID patients into state assisted living facilities. Also omitted from her feed was Cuomo’s sexual harassment scandal that ultimately resulted in his resignation last year.
Declared it’s ‘racist’ to refer to COVID as the ‘China virus’
Jean-Pierre unleashed on Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who in March 2020 defended using the term “China virus” to refer to the coronavirus since “that where it came from” and rejected the notion that it would fuel hatred towards Asian Americans.
“Dangerous, reckless and scary xenophobic & racist language coming from Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn,” Jean-Pierre reacted.
Two days later, she similarly blasted Trump for having scratched off “corona” from coronavirus in his notes and writing “China” as in “China virus” instead.
“It’s not only racist but deliberate. For those who believe, he says whatever comes to mind —- well, here is proof that it’s planned which just is all the more disgusting,” Jean-Pierre wrote.
Accused Republicans of ‘lying’ about critical race theory ideology in schools
Following the stunning victory in November of Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who was largely propelled by voters on the issue of education, Jean-Pierre was asked how much “race” was a “driving issue” in that election given all the GOP focus on the critical race theory ideology that has impacted schools.
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Jean-Pierre responded by saying politicians “should not be dictating” school curriculum and that it should be left to “the parents, the school, the school boards, the teachers and the administrators.”
“But we also need to be honest about what’s going on here. Republicans are lying. They’re not being honest. They’re not being truthful about where we stand and they’re cynically trying to use our kids as a political football,” she told reporters in November. “They’re talking about our kids when it’s election season, but they won’t vote for them when it matters.”
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