Outgoing White House press secretary Jen Psaki choked up during her last day at the podium Friday, thanking various people involved in the administration as well as the press corps.
Psaki announced May 5 that her last day as press secretary would be May 13. She’ll be replaced by deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who has served in various senior communication and political roles for President Joe Biden.
Prior to taking questions from reporters for one last time from behind the podium, Psaki noted that she “wanted to start with a series of thank you’s.” The press secretary added that she “promised” herself she “wasn’t going to get emotional,” but still choked up throughout her brief speech.
“I want to say thank you to the president and the first lady,” Psaki began. “They entrusted me in serving this role for the last fifteen months, and I talked about this a little bit before, but during my first conversation with them, which was in November of 2020 after the election, I was very nervous when I went to see them in Delaware.”
Psaki said the majority of their conversation surrounded “the importance of returning integrity, respect and civility to the White House.” She alluded to her and Biden’s “Irish side” showing from time to time – a nod to sharper-tempered moments coming from the duo – and said she hoped she “followed the example of integrity and grace that” Biden and First Lady Jill Biden “have set for all of us.”
“I’m incredibly grateful to them,” the press secretary said.
Psaki also thanked what she called the “extended” Biden family, including those who previously worked with the president, as well as the press team. She cited the press team as an example of why Washington isn’t “rotten,” a question she said gets asked often.
“I believe the absolute opposite is true because I have worked with and engage with all of these incredible people across the administration and this amazing team,” Psaki said.
The press secretary concluded her speech by thanking the press corps, calling the back-and-forth’s often seen from the briefings as an example of “democracy in action.”
“You have challenged me, you have pushed me,” Psaki said to the group of reporters crowded in the small briefing room. “You have debated me and at times we have disagreed – that is democracy in action. That it is working. Without accountability, without debate, government is not as strong, and you all play an incredibly pivotal role.”
“Thank you for what you do. Thank you for making me better. Most importantly, thank you for the work every day you do to make this country stronger,” she concluded.
Psaki is reportedly heading to MSNBC following her tenure as a White House press secretary. The news, which broke while she was still serving at the White House, sparked ethics questions. (RELATED: REPORT: Frustrated NBC News Staffers Press Bosses For Answers On MSNBC Potentially Hiring Psaki)
At the time, Psaki assured the country that she was following the “stringent ethical and legal requirements” imposed within the administration regarding any future gig.
“There are a range of stringent ethical and legal requirements that are imposed on everybody and this administration, and many administrations past, about any conversations you’re having with future employers. That is true of any industry you’re working in and I have abided by those and tried to take steps to go beyond that as well,” Psaki said in April.
“It is the policy of this White House that anyone who’s having conversations about future employment does so through consultation with the White House counsel’s office and ensuring they abide by ethics and legal requirements and those are conversations that I have taken very seriously and abided by every component of,” she added at the time.