Watch Jen Psaki Shut Down Reporter Who Questions Pete Buttigieg's Paternity Leave

"They should have this time to bond with their children," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says of American parents deserving paid parental leave

Press Secretary Jen Psaki is defending the need for paid parental leave for all Americans after new dad Pete Buttigieg's time off was again called into question.

Toward the end of a White House press conference held Tuesday, reporter Emerald Robinson from conservative outlet Newsmax asked about U.S. Secretary of Transportation Buttigieg, 39, taking time off to care for his newborn twins amid the ongoing supply chain issues exacerbated by the pandemic.

Robinson said "wouldn't it be wise for the secretary to get back on the bicycle, so to speak, and come back to work," implying that Buttigieg isn't currently involved in decision-making on that front.

Psaki quickly and matter-of-factly responded, "He is at work. I was on a conference call with him this morning."

"Listen, Emerald, I think what you are getting at here is this question of whether men, parents, women should have paternity and maternity leave, and the answer is absolutely yes," said Psaki. "In our view, that is the policy of this administration. That is what we're pressing to make law so it's a reality for women, parents, fathers across the country. We're not gonna back away from that."

When Robinson pushed back that Buttigieg is in a "different" job capacity than most, Psaki insisted that the departmentconsists of officials and staff who "keep that place humming, functioning every single day."

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Jen Psaki
Jen Psaki. Kevin Dietsch/Getty

"Just to be clear, we are quite confident in the capabilities, the talents of the civil servants, the leadership at the Department of Transportation, just as we are at companies across the country where women, men take maternity and paternity leave," Psaki said.

"I took 12 weeks of maternity leave when I was the White House communications director, and I'm grateful to former President Obama for that and for leadership at the time for that. This is something that men, women should have. They should have this time to bond with their children. Not gonna apologize for that from here. And certainly we are able to get the job done for the American people in the interim."

Moving on to another journalist for questions, Psaki said, "I think we're gonna keep going along. Emerald, I think we've spent plenty of time with you today," as Robinson tried to speak over and continue. "Emerald, let's give some other people more time here."

On Twitter afterward, Robinson shared a clip of their exchange and wrote, "Don't worry, America, nobody is in charge of solving our supply chain issues while Mayor Pete is on maternity leave!" incorrectly stating that Buttigieg — the first openly gay person to hold a Cabinet post — is on "maternity" leave rather than paternity.

Pete and Chasten Buttigieg Reveal Their Twins' Names with First Family Photo: 'Beyond Thankful'
Chasten (left) and Pete Buttigieg and their kids. Pete Buttigieg/Twitter

Another conservative personality, Fox News' Tucker Carlson, recently criticized and ridiculed Buttigieg for taking the time to care for newborn twin babies with his husband Chasten. Carlson said on his broadcast, "Paternity leave, they call it; trying to figure out how to breastfeed. No word on how that went."

On The View Wednesday, Buttigieg called Carlson's negative comments "unfortunate" and explained, "There's still this cultural idea out there in some places that [parental leave] is vacation. We just gotta change that culture."

When Buttigieg announced that he and Chasten were parents on Twitter in August, he wrote, "For some time, Chasten and I have wanted to grow our family. We're overjoyed to share that we've become parents!" In September, he revealed they welcomed twins named Penelope Rose and Joseph August.

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