Since President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has emerged as one of the leading faces for the administration due to her straightforward responses to reporters during her near-daily briefings.
Earlier this week, Psaki — a seasoned government communications expert whose connection with Biden dates back to Barack Obama’s first run for president in 2008 — announced that she will likely step down from her post within the next year.
Speaking to her former Obama White House colleague David Axelrod on an episode of his CNN podcast “The Axe Files,” Psaki revealed that she did not seek out her current job as press secretary. Instead, the Biden transition team reached out to her, and she worked out a deal for a short-term job at the outset of Biden’s presidency.
"When I talked to the inner circle of the Biden orbit, we talked about coming in and doing this job for a year, which was quite appealing to me for many reasons," she said, later adding: "I think it's going to be time for somebody else to have this job, in a year from now or about a year from now.”
Part of the reason Psaki took the job was her desire to partake in a “moment in history” following the chaotic tenure of the previous administration’s White House communications team.
Former President Donald Trump’s press briefings became known both for their frequency and theatrics, when top doctors would troop to the podium in the White House press room only to be upstaged by spurious pronouncements from Trump himself.
From the outset of her time as Biden’s press secretary, Psaki appeared determined to minimize drama in the briefing room. She promised to make the sessions a weekday routine, and has handled questions with no outward nervousness.
Her blunt answering style has also been referred to, both affectionately and not-so-fondly, as “Psaki Bombs” across social media.
“What a moment in history to be a part of,” Psaki said to Axelrod of her tenure. “It's always true in the White House, but following Trump, if you can take the temperature down a little bit, that's a cool thing to be a part of."
Psaki went on to say that while she loves her job, she hopes to spend more time with her two young children once her time in the White House is up.
"It's a great job. It will be hard, but I also never thought I'd be here, and I also love my kids a lot,” she said. "I don't want to miss moments. I don't want to miss things, and I'm very mindful of that as well.”
Psaki did not specify what her next moves might be, but her background offers a wide array of possible career moves. The 42-year-old Psaki was a State Department spokesperson and White House communications director in former President Barack Obama’s administration. She also served as a political contributor to CNN between 2017 - 2020.
Psaki’s conversation with Axelrod gives more clarity to comments she gave in an interview with the New York Times in early January, when she said she would stay on as press secretary while other, younger members of the communications team readied themselves for the podium.
“I think there frankly needs to be diverse spaces and voices as communicators,” Psaki said at the time. “Women, certainly, but beyond that.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.