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.
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.
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.
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.
In 2013, Jean-Pierre became a lecturer/faculty member in Columbia University’s Department of International and Public Affairs.
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.”
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 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.
“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.’ 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 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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
Further Reading: “Karine Jean-Pierre” (Linkedin.com)