- White House press secretary Jen Psaki held the first press briefing of the new administration on Wednesday evening and pledged to bring “transparency and truth back to the briefing room.”
- “There will be moments when we disagree … but we have a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people,” Psaki said.
- Psaki announced during the 30-minute event that the administration will restore daily weekday press briefings as well as regular briefings with public health officials to discuss the pandemic.
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White House press secretary Jen Psaki held the first press briefing of President Joe Biden’s new administration on Wednesday evening and pledged to bring “truth and transparency back to the briefing room” in an indirect critique of the previous administration.
“I have deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy and for the role all of you play,” she said. “There will be moments when we disagree … but we have a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people.”
Psaki, a veteran of President Barack Obama’s White House and State Department, added that Biden’s “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 I hope to deliver on in this role as well.”
Psaki announced during the 30-minute event that the administration will restore daily weekday press briefings as well as regular briefings with public health officials to discuss the pandemic.
The Biden administration is also implementing stricter rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the White House, including requiring daily testing for staffers, the use of N95 masks, and social distancing, Psaki said. These policies are a clear break from the Trump White House, which hosted numerous events that didn’t require mask-wearing or social distancing and helped facilitate super-spreader events.
“The issue [Biden] wakes up every day focused on is getting the pandemic under control,” Psaki said.
—CBS News (@CBSNews) January 21, 2021
Psaki began the briefing by reading out highlights from 15 executive orders Biden signed on Wednesday afternoon that included rejoining the Paris climate agreement, mandating mask-wearing on federal property, issuing a moratorium on evictions, and ending the travel ban on majority Mulism nations.
The press secretary answered questions from every reporter in the room, beginning with the Associated Press, and allowed some reporters multiple rounds of questions. She revealed that Biden has no plans to talk with Trump, but said the president found the letter Trump left him in the Oval Office “generous and gracious.”
Psaki insisted that Biden would like his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill to have bipartisan support, but won’t rely on GOP votes to pass the legislation.
“We are in the middle of an urgent crisis in this country,” she said. “We expect Republicans in Congress, and Democrats, too, to provide relief to the people they represent.”
When asked whether the Biden administration has “wiggle room” on the cost of the legislation, which Republicans have balked at, Psaki argued it would be hard to slash funds from any critical area.
“Are you going to cut funding for vaccinations, are you going to cut money from unemployment insurance, are you going to cut money from reopening schools?” she said.
She said Biden would leave “the mechanics” and timing of Trump’s Senate impeachment trial up to Congress.
“He has spoken very firmly and publicly about his views on the events of January 6,” she said.