An emotional Jen Psaki thanked President Biden and the press on her last day as chief White House spokesperson Friday, saying she tried to show “integrity and grace” from the podium.
“I promised myself I wasn’t going to get emotional. Phew,” she said, her voice cracking.
Ms. Psaki said her press team belied the idea that Washington is corrupt or “rotten” and praised her replacement, Karine Jean-Pierre, and the assembled media. In a joking aside, she apologized if she let her “Irish side” show too often during the daily back-and-forth from the briefing room.
“Thank you for the work you do every day to make this country stronger,” she told reporters.
Ms. Psaki’s last round on the podium featured a discussion about crime with Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and Detroit Police Chief James White, and comments on the baby formula shortage, unrest in the Middle East and other topics of the day.
Ms. Psaki served as press secretary from the start of Mr. Biden’s term in January 2021. She was lauded by liberals as a sure-footed presence on the podium who could mix it up with Fox News reporters and drop firm answers known in Twitter lingo as “Psaki bombs.”
The Republican National Committee wished Ms. Psaki good riddance after “a year of promising to circle back and leaving more questions than answers.”
The White House did not say where Ms. Psaki was headed, but her departure was widely expected for months. Reports surfaced last month that she was headed to MSNBC, where she will likely land her own television show.
“Perhaps Joe Biden’s first press interview in more than 90 days will be with Jen at MSNBC,” RNC Press Secretary Emma Vaughn said.
Mr. Biden this month said Ms. Psaki “set the standard for returning decency, respect and decorum to the White House Briefing Room.”
She will hand the baton to Ms. Jean-Pierre, 44, who has served as one of Ms. Psaki’s top deputies since the Biden administration began last year.
Ms. Jean-Pierre will be the first Black and openly LGBTQ person to hold the position of White House press secretary. She lives with longtime CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux and their adopted daughter.
Ms. Psaki had received high marks from some reporters in the briefing room who viewed her as trying to build back the relationship between the White House and reporters after the Trump administration stopped holding daily press briefings.
But other reporters fiercely criticized her for rarely calling on reporters who sit past the briefing room’s first three rows, where legacy outlets sit.