Biden Press Secretary Vows ‘Truth and Transparency’ in First Briefing

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (CN) — A little over seven hours after Joe Biden was sworn into office Wednesday, the new White House press secretary said the administration would deliver “truth and transparency.”

Jen Psaki, who held several roles during the administration of former President Barack Obama, took questions from reporters Wednesday night while announcing the reinstallation of the daily White House press briefing.

When asked what the Scranton native’s reaction was to be returning to Washington, Psaki said he was somewhat joyful, having spent the day with family — but also that he had an “incredible sense of calm,” and one of familiarity returning to the space he spent two terms as vice president just four years ago.

“He’s also eager to get to work,” Psaki said. “He was asking questions about policy and Covid and what’s next, so that also reflects his desire to roll up his sleeves and get going.”

The press lobbed questions to Psaki for 30 minutes, who began her briefing by outlining some of the 17 executive orders signed by Biden earlier in the evening, reversing several policies of Donald Trump. Psaki also said that Biden is expected to begin his outreach to foreign leaders on Friday, with a conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Expect early calls to foreign leaders to be to allies early on, Psaki said, noting Biden’s focus on rebuilding relationships diminished by the Trump administration’s navigation of foreign policy and threats throughout the world.

While many have called for Biden to call for an end to the impeachment trial of Trump to inspire national unity, Psaki said the administration was confident the Senate could multitask and fulfil their constitutional duty while continuing to conduct the business of the American people.

Moreover, it was paramount lawmakers were focused on making Biden’s Covid-19 relief package law in order to address problems the country is facing, Psaki said. More than 405,500 people have died in the U.S. from Covid-19 as of Wednesday evening, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

“So, we hope, and frankly we expect Republicans in Congress and Democrats too, will support assistance that brings relief to the people they represent,” Psaki said. 

At the forefront of the minds of many Americans is how the Biden administration will quell embers of disinformation, which sparked into a deadly, insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol two weeks earlier. 

But Psaki said with accuracy, data and truth, information would be flowing more transparently from the White House, with the return of briefings with public health officials and other regular releases of information.

More information would be coming on that issue later in the week, along with information about a plan from Biden for in-school testing around the country, Psaki said.

There was no flurry of insults lobbed at the press, as made a feature by former Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Instead, Psaki noted her time serving in the Obama White House and as a spokesperson for the State Department and said traveling to promote democracy around the world would be a reminder to her while serving.

“I’ve traveled the world on trips to promote democracy where I saw the power of the United States and of course, the power of this podium and the power of truth and the importance of setting an example of engagement and transparency,” Psaki said. “I have deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy and for the role all of you play.”

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