Jen Psaki Staying Mum on Post-White House Future After Reports She'll Head to MSNBC and Peacock

"I've complied with all ethics requirements and gone beyond and taken steps to recuse myself from decisions as appropriate," the Biden press secretary said Friday

Jen Psaki
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty

Jen Psaki on Friday declined to address mounting reports she has decided to leave the White House and return to cable news — but, she insisted, any talk about her next job was done under strict ethical and legal guidelines.

President Joe Biden's spokeswoman was pressed about her future during Friday's briefing with reporters hours after Axios published a story that, according to anonymous sources, she was "in exclusive talks with MSNBC to join the network after she leaves the White House around May."

The political news website further reported that while a contract had not been finalized, Psaki, 43, had been discussing hosting a show on Peacock, the streaming platform for MSNBC's parent company, and would contribute to MSNBC's programming.

Psaki's plans were further reported by The Washington Post and CNN, which said she intended to stay in the administration through the White House Correspondents' Association dinner at the end of April.

(Psaki did not respond to an email from PEOPLE seeking comment; a spokesman for NBC and MSNBC declined to comment.)

Appearing before reporters later Friday for her regular briefing, Psaki demurred on what her decision was, initially joking to one reporter's question, "Well you can't get rid of me yet." She also referenced her recent absence from the West Wing after testing positive for COVID-19.

"I have nothing to confirm about my length of public service or planned service or anything about consideration about next plans," she said, adding:

"I'm very happy to be standing with all of you here today after it felt like a never-ending endless time in my basement quarantining away from my family. Believe it or not, I missed you all a lot. And my focus every day continues to be speaking on behalf of the president and answering your questions, as tough as they may be at many times, as difficult as they may be to answer at many times."

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Asked repeatedly about if and how she had weighed the ethical concerns about a job in media while also continuing to work as a spokesperson who deals with the media daily, Psaki said, "I have always gone over and above the stringent ethical and legal requirements of the Biden administration and I take that very seriously."

"I have received rigorous ethics counseling, including as it relates to any future employment," she continued. "I've complied with all ethics requirements and gone beyond and taken steps to recuse myself from decisions as appropriate."

Psaki was not more specific about the exact nature of the steps she had taken in this regard. Axios reported earlier Friday that she had been "treading carefully" and "MSNBC has been working with its compliance lawyers to make sure their conversations didn't violate any government regulations."

"There are a range of stringent ethical and legal requirements that are imposed on everybody in this administration, and many administrations past, about any conversations you're having with future employers," Psaki told reporters. "That is true of any industry you're working in and I have abided by those and tried to take steps to go beyond that as well."

"I hope that all of you — I've been working with all of you some time — would judge me for my record and how I treat all of you, both in the briefing room and otherwise," she said.

Jen Psaki, joe biden
From left: President Joe Biden and Jen Psaki. Celestino Arce/NurPhoto via Getty Images; Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Psaki has regularly said she would not remain in the White House for Biden's full term. Many aides and top officials stay only for a period of time given the nature of the work.

Psaki said last year she would remain a year, then later said it would be likely until May of this year, or thereabout, but noted she had "flexibility."

Her tenure as press secretary was a return to the West Wing, after previously serving as a communications director for President Barack Obama. She was also the spokeswoman for Secretary of State John Kerry and was a CNN commentator before joining the Biden White House.

The website Puck reported in February that she had been courted by both CNN and NBC and MSNBC for roles there.

While there are rules about government employees discussing jobs in the private sector, there is also a long history of White House aides moving back and forth between their public work and jobs in the media.

MSNBC hosts Symone Sanders and Nicolle Wallace and Fox News host Kayleigh McEnany were all spokespeople in the Biden and Trump administrations, for example.

Psaki said Friday that, wherever she went next, her immediate next step was closer to home.

"I can promise you the first thing I'm going to do is sleep and spend time with my 3- and 6-year-olds, who are my most important audiences of all," she said.

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