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In first briefing, Jen Psaki promises transparency from White House briefing room

Jen Psaki
Posted at 5:54 PM, Jan 20, 2021

White House press secretary Jen Psaki held her first White House news briefing on Wednesday as President Joe Biden settled into the office, and promised to offer reporters transparency into the administration's decisions.

"If the president were standing here with me today, he would say he works for the American people," Psaki said. "I work for him. So I also work for the American people, but his objective and his commitment is to bring transparency and truth back to government, to share the truth, even when it's hard to hear. And that's something that I hope to deliver on in this role as well."

While Psaki promised transparency, she dodged several questions during her first briefing.

Here were some of the highlights of Wednesday's briefing:

- When asked if Biden had confidence in FBI Director Christopher Wray, Psaki would not answer.

- When asked if Biden supported a Senate trial of President Donald Trump, Psaki would not say, but said that the Senate should be able to continue considering Biden's policy goals.

- Psaki committed to making press briefings a daily occurrence. She also vowed to include health officials in upcoming briefings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are confident, though, that just like the American people can, the Senate can also multitask and they can do their Constitutional duty while continuing to conduct the business of the American people," Psaki said.

As part of the new administration's response to the coroanvirus, Psaki said that Biden expects the staff to serve as role models to the rest of America.

"What I can speak to, if interest of the steps we're all taking to make sure that we're safe, he is safe, you are all safe, those include daily testing when we're in the White House," Psaki said. "It includes wearing N-95 masks. I wore it out, of course, here today and will continue to do that. It includes stringent rules about social distancing. The President asked us to be models to the American people and that's vitally important to us, as well."

The briefing was the first look at the interaction between the Biden administration and the news media. Psaki also served as Biden’s press secretary during the transition.

Psaki previously served in the Obama administration, first serving as the White House’s deputy press secretary, then she was the White House communications director, then as the State Department’s spokesperson, followed by becoming the White House communications director.

Although Biden has only been in office for several hours, he has been off to a busy start, first signing executive orders, some of which will undo a number of directives by President Donald Trump.

Also on Wednesday, Democrats took the advantage in the US Senate as three new Democratic senators were sworn into the body by Vice President Kamala Harris. Harris herself will serve as president of the Senate. With the Senate evenly divided, Harris will act as the tiebreaker in party-line votes.