Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Jen Psaki: "With that I’d love to take your questions”

In her inaugural briefing as White House press secretary, Jen Psaki said she has a “deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy,” and pledged to hold daily briefings.

Why it matters: Conferences with the press secretary in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room became almost non-existent under the Trump administration. By sending Psaki to the podium hours after President Biden took the oath of office, the White House signaled a return to pre-Trump norms.

  • “There will be moments where we disagree,” Psaki said. “But we have a common goal which is sharing accurate information with the American people.”

The big picture: After establishing her commitment to daily appearances, the briefing reestablished a familiar pattern of questions, answers and some dodges, with reporters looking for information — as well as color — about Biden’s first hours in the Oval Office.

  • Psaki took her first question from Zeke Miller of the Associated Press, giving deference to the storied wire service, before turning to NBC’s Peter Alexander.
  • Reporters asked a mix of routine questions about the president's calls with foreign leaders and upcoming travel, while also pressing her on Biden's immediate agenda and legislative strategy. Other reporters wanted details on the contents of the note outgoing President Trump left for Biden.
  • Psaki called Trump’s letter to Biden “both generous and gracious.”
  • Biden’s first foreign leader phone call will be on Friday with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Details: Psaki also called on Fox News' Peter Doocy, who asked about Biden’s position on a possible Senate impeachment trial.

  • Psaki answered by saying she is "confident" the Senate can "multitask."
  • In answer to a separate question, she declined to say if Biden had confidence in FBI Director Christopher Wray.

The bottom line: Psaki answered some questions and parried others, while trying to establish a rapport with the room and reconnect with some reporters she has long known.

  • "Let's do this again tomorrow," she said.
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