Jen Psaki held her 224th and final briefing at the White House on Friday and fought back tears as she thanked President Joe Biden, members of the administration, and the press staff.
Karine Jean-Pierre, who has served as principal deputy press secretary, will succeed Psaki, who has been in the role for the past 15 months.
In remarks on her tenure, Psaki recounted meeting with Biden and Jill Biden shortly after the election and being “very nervous” when she went to see them.
“Really what we talked about for the majority of our conversation was the importance of returning integrity, respect, and civility to the White House,” Psaki said. “The small sliver of my job here and in engaging with all of you, that does not mean that we haven’t let our Irish sideshow — mine and the president’s as well from time to time. I recognize that. But on my best days, and as I look back, I hope I followed the example of integrity and grace that they have set for all of us.”
Under Psaki’s tenure, she returned the daily briefing as a regular part of the White House schedule. According to CNN, citing figures from Martha Joynt Kumar, reported that Psaki held more briefings than all of the Trump-era press secretaries combined. One of Trump’s press secretaries, Stephanie Grisham, held no official briefings.
Psaki also thanked members of the press “for making me better.”
“You have challenged me, and you have pushed me, you have debated me, and at times we have disagreed,” she said. “That is democracy in action. Without accountability, without debate, government is not as strong, and you all play an incredibly pivotal role.”
Psaki has not an official announcement about her professional plans, but sources have said that she plans to take a role at MSNBC. The job of a press secretary also is all-consuming, and she has balanced those demands along with raising two children, aged 4 and 6 years old. Joining her at the briefing was her husband, Gregory Mecher. “He has not only been a supporter and advocate of mine, and he is an incredible partner and dad and I wouldn’t be here without him,” she said.