Karine Jean-Pierre

© Image Copyright : Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: The White House

Overview

  • Was named White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary by President Biden in 2021
  • Replaced Jen Psaki as White House Press Secretary in May 2022
  • Served as Chief of Staff to Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris in 2020
  • Was Press Secretary to Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner in early to mid-2000s
  • Worked for SEIU’s Wal-Mart Watch and was a national spokeswoman for MoveOn.org
  • Worked for Obama For America/Organizing For America
  • Supports the tenets of Critical Race Theory and identity politics

Background

Karine Jean-Pierre was born on August 13, 1977, in Fort-de-France, Martinique, a Caribbean island that is an overseas territory of France, but she grew up in Queens, New York.

In 1997 Jean-Pierre met David Dinkins, the former Democratic mayor of New York City, who subsequently became her mentor.

Jean-Pierre went on to earn a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in 2003.

She is openly lesbian and is married to CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.

Political & Activist Pursuits

A champion of identity politics, Jean-Pierre checks many boxes that are important to the Left. “As a vegetarian, environmentalist and minority rights activist, Karine undeniably represents the left wing of the Democratic Party,” says The Africa Report. “When it comes to social policy, she is aligned with the likes of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”

A strong supporter of Haiti’s authoritarian Marxist President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Jean-Pierre co-chaired an April 7, 2004 rally at Brooklyn College titled “An Evening with Friends of Haiti: The Truth Behind the Haiti Coup,” after Aristide had been overthrown in a coup two months earlier. A crowd of some 2,000 people attended the rally, at which the United States was blamed for Aristide’s ouster. Jean-Pierre also visited Haiti as a member of an activist-led fact-finding delegation.

In the early to mid-2000s, Jean-Pierre served as Press Secretary to Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner, and as Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Legislative & Budget Affairs for two Democratic members of the New York City Council. Her duties with the City Council included maintaining relationships with Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the pro-socialist community organization ACORN.

In 2006-07, Jean-Pierre worked for SEIU’s Wal-Mart Watch, a group trying to unionize the retail giant’s employees.

Around that same time, she became the national spokeswoman for MoveOn.org, as well as a political analyst for MSNBC and NBC News.

From January 2007 to February 2008, Jean-Pierre was the Southeast Regional Political Director for Democrat John Edwards’ presidential campaign.

Jean-Pierre held multiple positions in Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, particularly through the organization Obama For America/Organizing For America.

From January to May of 2009, Jean-Pierre was the U.S. Labor Department’s White House Liaison.

From May 2009 to March 2011, she was the Regional Political Director in the White House Office of Political Affairs. “Serving and working for President Obama, where you can be openly gay, has been an amazing honor,” she later said. “It felt incredible to be a part of an administration that prioritizes LGBT issues.”

In 2013, Jean-Pierre worked as a senior adviser to Democrat Bill Thompson’s run for Mayor of New York City, and as the campaign manager for Democrat Letitia James’ bid for the position of New York City Public Advocate.

From April 2014 to January 2015, Jean-Pierre was the campaign manager for the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Initiative.

From May 2015 to February 2016, she served as deputy campaign manager for Democrat Martin O’Malley’s presidential run.

Teaching at Columbia University

In 2013, Jean-Pierre became a lecturer/faculty member in Columbia University’s Department of International and Public Affairs.

Jean-Pierre’s Contempt for Donald Trump, Whom She Considered an “Illegitimate” President Who “Stole” an Election

On April 27, 2016, MoveOn.org announced in a press release that it had hired Jean-Pierre as “Senior Advisor and National Spokesperson for the group’s work on the 2016 election.” In these roles, said the release, “Karine will advise on, and serve as a spokesperson around, MoveOn’s electoral work, including a major effort to stand up to Donald Trump and his rhetoric and platform of hate, violence, racism, immigrant­-bashing, and woman-­bashing.” Jean-Pierre affirmed that she was happy to accept this position combatting what she described as Trump’s “bigotry” and “hate,” and she proudly declared that she personally represented “everything that Donald Trump hates.” (Jean-Pierre would continue working for MoveOn until the 2020 presidential campaign.)

On December 17, 2016, Jean-Pierre tweeted: “Stolen emails, stolen drone, stolen election …..welcome to the world of #unpresidented Trump.”

During a February 10, 2017 appearance on HBO’s Real Time, Jean-Pierre told host Bill Maher: “I think the thing to understand is that, if you are not white, male, straight, you are — you fear a — Donald Trump’s presidency because there is no place for you in a Donald Trump’s presidency.” “He [Trump] ran the most anti-immigration campaign that we have ever seen,” Jean-Pierre added. “He talked about Mexicans, calling them rapists and criminals. He talked about Muslim ban, and it is fearful for all of us.”

In September 2017, Jean-Pierre condemned President Trump for suggesting that “he might do away with DACA,” former President Barack Obama’s 2012 “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program, which had been enacted to protect hundreds of thousands of young illegal aliens from deportation. The termination of DACA, said Jean-Pierre, would represent “another moral line that [Trump] would be crossing” for the purpose of “advancing a white supremacy agenda.”

In a December 23, 2017 tweet, Jean-Pierre referred to Trump as an “illegitimate” president: “Trump always finds a way to take it to the lowest of lows. Not only is he petulant dotard but also a deplorable illegitimate president.”

In a January 2018 opinion piece excoriating Trump and his agenda, Jean-Pierre wrote:

“Donald Trump’s legacy is not simply speckled with incidents of racism; it itself is racist. Donald Trump entered the business world as a racist, he entered the 2016 election as a racist, and he entered the White House as a racist.

“In 1989, five black and Latino teenage boys were wrongfully convicted of raping a woman jogging in Central Park in a case that relied heavily — perhaps exclusively — on racist stereotypes of black men sexually assaulting white women. The case came to be known as the Central Park Five. Leading the calls for these children’s execution was Donald Trump, who had no connection to the case — other than that he was racist, and this was an opportunity to show it. Even after the Central Park Five were exonerated by DNA evidence and the confession of the actual perpetrator, Trump refused to apologize.[1]

“In 2016 as the Republican nominee for President, Donald Trump called Mexican immigrants ‘racists,’ again relying on tired tropes about black and brown men sexually assaulting white women […] He questioned the competence of a Mexican American judge, Gonzalo Curiel, solely on the basis of his ethnic heritage. And he called for ‘a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’ […]

“And, since winning the presidency — to pick just one example— his response to a white supremacist rally that culminated in the murder of a peaceful protester was to tell Americans that ‘there are two sides to a story.’ He’s right, in a way: One side was racist, the other was not. It doesn’t take much imagination to guess to which side Trump was more sympathetic. […]

“Given all this, it’s not surprising Donald Trump called Haiti — a country whose independence and freedom was borne out of the first successful slave-led revolution — a ‘shithole.’[2]  It’s also not surprising he said so in the context of immigration policy discussions. Because just as Trump’s racism is intrinsic to who he is as a person, it too is embedded in his policy choices, from his attempts to implement a somewhat limited version of the Muslim ban he promised to his insistence on building a wall on the border with Mexico as part of any immigration reform. […]

“Trump’s racism is what underlies and governs his support of tying immigration quotas to ‘historical norms.’ widely seen as a way to limit immigration from non-European countries, which is a policy we as a nation have already long ago understood to be racist and discarded, and to end family reunification policies (which Republicans have rebranded ‘chain migration’) which allows families to build new lives in America together. […]

“Every person who stays silent on Donald Trump’s racism, regardless of their own race or party, is betraying not just America’s communities of color, but the very ideals on which this country was founded.”

During a January 13, 2018 appearance on the MSNBC program AM Joy, Jean-Pierre told host Joy Reid: “We have a racist president in the White House who really pushes his racism like a peacock. It’s very clear how he feels about immigration. He … wants to put a sign on the Statue of Liberty and say [that says], ‘Whites only. And no one else need to apply.’ It’s troubling, and I really throw this to the Republicans out there on the hill: What are you going to do? Are you really going to continue to embrace all this racism policies [sic] that the president puts forth? Is that what you’re going to do?”

During a June 3, 2018 appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, Jean-Pierre continued her assault on President Trump, saying: “[H]e is a bully in chief. He uses the bully pulpit to attack. He goes after women of color, he and his administration. They go after Latinos and immigrants, calling them animals, conflating MS-13 to immigrants, to refugees. Racism was here before Donald Trump, and sadly it will be here after. That is the fact. But what he has done, he has normalized it. He’s given license to people to make it okay, to say, ‘You want to put out your racism, even loud and be public about it? Go ahead because he’s doing it.’ And that is the problem that we’re in in this culture war because it is coming from the White House.”

In a November 2019 op-ed in Vogue magazine, Jean-Pierre characterized the Trump Administration as “a regime of white supremacy,” and she falsely accused the President of having said that the neo-Nazis who infamously had marched in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 were “very fine people.”

Arguing That Accusations of Sexual Impropriety Should Disqualify Candidates from Seeking Political Office

In December 2017, Jean-Pierre told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the mere accusation of sexual impropriety — even in the absence of evidence — should be enough to forever disqualify a person from running for political office. “I think we’re at a point in time in this country where the ‘#MeToo’ movement [against sexual abuse and harassment] has really … gotten some traction and we’re finally listening to victims, whether they’re women or men. And I think if you’re running for office, you can’t have been accused of sexual harassment or assault. And I think that we have to really take that next step here and make sure that it doesn’t happen with anyone in office or out of office.”

In a May 25, 2022 article in Breitbart.com, Joel Pollack observed: “Ironically, she [Jean-Pierre] went on to work for [President Joe] Biden, even after he had been credibly accused of sexual misconduct by former aide Tara Reade.”

Jean-Pierre & Israel

After not even one Democratic presidential candidate chose to attend the annual convention of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) in 2019, Jean-Pierre wrote a March 26, 2019 opinion column in Newsweek titled “Why 2020 Democrats Skipped AIPAC: Pro-Israel Group Is Often the Antithesis of Progressive Values.” “[T]hey made the right call,” she said, “because when it comes down to it, AIPAC’s policies are not progressive policies. AIPAC’s values are not progressive values.” Jean-Pierre also bemoaned AIPAC’s decision to spend “tens of millions of dollars” trying to defeat the “historic” Iran nuclear deal crafted by President Obama, a deal she described as an “attempt to create and maintain peace.” “In its attempts to ruin the Iran deal, AIPAC supported the group that’s credited with inspiring President Trump to enact the Muslim Ban and has been known to spread anti-Muslim racism,” she wrote without providing evidence of the alleged racism.

In the same Newsweek piece, Jean-Pierre also accused Israel of war crimes by way of criticizing AIPAC for having invited then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be the lead speaker at a conference. “Netanyahu not only has personal charges levied against him—he’s been indicted on both bribery and fraud charges—but under his leadership of Israel, according to the United Nations, Israel may have committed war crimes in its attacks on Gazan protesters,” she wrote.

Jean-Pierre further alleged that AIPAC routinely engaged in “severely racist, Islamophobic rhetoric” and was guilty of “trafficking in anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric while lifting up Islamophobic voices and attitudes.” Such rhetoric “doesn’t simply sit in a silo,” she expounded. “It interacts with the world, creating and fuming hatred that leads to hateful acts, whether the package is individual hate crimes—or collective—[like] the Muslim ban.”

AIPAC had also “refused to condemn the repeated and callous anti-Semitic remarks that have come out of the Trump administration,” Jean-Pierre wrote, citing a disputed claim that Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon had once said he did not want his children attending school with Jewish classmates.

“You cannot call yourself a progressive while continuing to associate yourself with an organization like AIPAC that has often been the antithesis of what it means to be progressive,” Jean-Pierre wrote in her Newsweek piece as well.

2019 Memoir

Jean-Pierre’s 2019 memoir, Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America, was published by Hanover Square Press. The book’s foreword was written by Valerie Jarrett, a close friend and White House adviser of Barack Obama.

Jean-Pierre was interviewed by Judy Woodruff of PBS on November 26, 2019, to promote the book. In that interview, Jean-Pierre acknowledged that she has personally struggled with mental health issues during the course of her life:

“And one of the reasons I talk about it in the book is because there is a stigma connected to mental health, and people don’t want to talk about what they go through when they are in dark times and they don’t know how to get out of it. And because of the pressures of me growing up, and just feeling like an outsider all through my growing up, my young — young days, there was a time where I attempted to take my life. I attempted suicide. And it was a dark, dark time in my life, clearly. And so I put that in the book. I put it in the book because I want to help people. I want anybody who has ever felt that way to feel like there is a way out and to know there is a way out.”

Jean-Pierre in the Biden-Harris White House

During the 2020 presidential campaign, Jean-Pierre served as Chief of Staff to Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris.

In January 2021, Jean-Pierre became the White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary for Joe Biden‘s administration.

Accusing Republicans of Lying about Critical Race Theory

After Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in a stunning upset in the Virginia gubernatorial election of November 2021 – an outcome that was at least partially attributable to Republicans hammering away at Democrats for supporting the teaching of the tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT) to schoolchildren — Jean-Pierre attacked Republicans. At a press briefing on November 4, she said: “Republicans are lying. They’re not being honest. They’re not being truthful about where we [Democrats] stand [regarding CRT]. And they’re … cynically trying to use our kids as a political football. They’re talking about our kids … when it’s election season, but they won’t vote for them when it matters.”

White House Press Secretary

On May 5, 2022, Jean-Pierre was named as the new White House Press Secretary, replacing Jen Psaki, who was slated to start working for MSNBC on May 13.

Falsely Claiming That the Baby Formula Shortage Has Long Been a Top Priority

On May 13, 2022, President Biden bristled when reporters asked if he could have acted sooner to address the nationwide baby-formula shortage. “If we had been better mind readers, I guess we could’ve, but we moved as the problem became apparent to us,” Biden replied sarcastically. Indeed, this was the first time he ever mentioned the problem, though news reports had been discussing it for weeks.

On May 16, 2022, Jean-Pierre called the baby-formula shortage “one of the president’s top priorities.” “This is something he is focusing on very acutely, and again I said 24/7 we’ve been working on this since we have learned about this back in February,” she stated.

Jean-Pierre Says That Biden Opposes “Hardening Schools” to Protect Against Mass Shootings

On June 1, 2022 — a few days after after an 18-year-old Latino gunman walked unobstructed into Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and murdered 19 children and two teachers —  Jean-Pierre said that President Biden was opposed to the policy of “hardening schools” as a means of protecting children from mass shooters. “I know there’s been conversation about hardening schools,” she said. “That is not something that he believes in. He believes that we should be able to give teachers the resources to be able to do the job that they’re meant to do at schools.” Jean-Pierre also said that “background checks” were needed to “make sure that our communities are protected” and ensure “that our children are not going to school feeling unsafe” — though the Texas gunman had in fact passed a background check when purchasing the weapons that he used in his mass murder.

Defending the Biden Administration’s Decision to Fill Gaps in Trump’s Border Wall in Arizona

On July 28, 2022, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas authorized the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency to seal four separate gaps in former President Trump’s uncompleted border wall near the Morelos Dam just west of downtown Yuma, Arizona. Those gaps had become a major thoroughfare for illegal migrants crossing into the United States. The DHS claimed that the area “presents safety and life hazard risks for migrants attempting to cross into the United States where there is a risk of drownings and injuries from falls.”

In light of the Biden administration’s decision, Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy asked Karine Jean-Pierre at her regular press briefing: “Why is the Biden administration building a border wall in Arizona?” .

“We’re not finishing the wall,” Jean-Pierre replied. “We are cleaning up the mess the prior administration left behind in their failed attempt to build a wall.”

“But President Biden, when he was a candidate, said, ‘There will not be another foot of wall constructed in my administration,’” Doocy noted, referencing an August 2020 statement by Biden. “So what changed?”

“We are not finishing the wall,” Jean-Pierre repeated.

“If walls work in that part of Arizona,” Doocy asked, “is this the administration trying to get migrants to cross somewhere else, like in Texas? What is the point?”

Jean-Pierre again said, “We are not finishing the wall. We are cleaning up the mess that the prior administration made. We are trying to save lives. This is what the prior administration left behind that we are now cleaning up.”

“By finishing the wall, is this —” Doocy continued.

“We are not finishing the wall,” Jean-Pierre interrupted.

“By filling in, finishing —” Doocy said.

“We are not finishing the wall,” Jean-Pierre again interjected.

Doocy then asked, “By filling in [the wall], is this racist? Because in 2019, when the former guy [Trump] was proposing a wall, you said that it was his racist wall. So how is this any different?”

“I’m not even sure how you get [from] your first question to this question that you just asked me,” Jean-Pierre replied. “A border wall is an ineffective use of taxpayer dollars … Just recently, CBP reported that new bollard fencing along the Southwest border was breached 3,272 times between fiscal year 2019 and 2021, requiring $2.6 million in repairs. It’s ineffective. We are not finishing the wall. We are cleaning up the mess that the last administration made.”

The principal motivation for the Biden administration’s action seemed to be the fact that with the November midterm elections just over three months away, American voters were disenchanted with Biden’s open-border policies  — policies that were likely to have very direct implications for the political fortunes Democrat U.S. Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, who the day before had praised DHS for filling in the gaps in the wall.

Further Reading:Karine Jean-Pierre” (Linkedin.com)

Footnotes

  1. Contrary to Jean-Pierre’s claims, evidence of the guilt of the “Central Park Five” was overwhelming.
  2. This allegation was based on a claim made by Democrat Senator Dick Durbin, who reported that Trump had used the term in a closed-door meeting with legislators.

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