The PJ Tatler

Psaki Leaving State Department to Head White House Communications Team

The Associated Press is reporting that President Obama is plucking Jen Psaki from the State Department to run his communications team at the White House.

She’ll replace Jennifer Palmieri on April 1. Palmieri is leaving to work on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Psaki, who was Obama’s traveling press secretary during his re-election campaign, began conducting the daily briefing as the State Department’s press secretary in May 2013.

It required lots of on-the-job training. Psaki was picked by then-new Secretary of State John Kerry to be his press secretary, replacing Victoria Nuland, in mid-February 2013, and began undergoing intensive training within the State Department on global affairs.

Psaki came to the job with no foreign policy experience and regularly faced grillings from reporters around the world.

Nuland, on the other hand, was a former U.S. ambassador to NATO in the George W. Bush administration and a former foreign policy adviser to Dick Cheney.

Kerry knows Psaki from her work on his 2004 presidential campaign, but unlike the messaging she shaped for Obama’s and Kerry’s campaigns the State Department is expressly a nonpartisan agency.

There’s also a press shake-up at the Pentagon, where new Defense Secretary Ash Carter will replace press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby with a civilian.

Kirby told reporters yesterday that he didn’t know when his last briefing will be.

“We’ll just have to see how the schedule plays out,” he said. “You know, we try to do two a week, and then we’ll just see.”

The last civilian press secretary, George Little, stepped down in October 2013, days after Carter stepped down after Chuck Hagel’s tenure began.