- Jen Psaki says she doesn’t advise President Biden to take impromptu questions from reporters.
- “That is not something we recommend,” she said during an interview with David Axelrod.
- Psaki said that she aims to keep Biden on message and free of “distractions.”
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in an interview released on Thursday that she doesn’t encourage President Joe Biden to field spontaneous questions from journalists who shout during press appearances.
In an interview with former White House senior advisor David Axelrod on CNN’s “The Axe Files,” Psaki said that Biden has no issues with answering impromptu questions, but revealed that the administration advises against it.
“That is not something we recommend,” she said. “In fact, a lot of times we say ‘Don’t take questions,’ you know, but he’s going to do what he wants to do because he’s the president.”
The issue came up when Axelrod asked Psaki about CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins reportedly running into Biden at the White House and asking him if a $15 minimum wage provision would make it into the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that he eventually signed into law in March. Biden responded at the time that he didn’t think provision would be included in the bill.
The wage increase, which was highly sought after by progressives, was left out of the final bill after Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled that it didn’t pass muster with budget reconciliation rules.
Psaki laughed off the encounter between Biden and Collins when Axelrod questioned if the president roaming the hallways was causing her “a lot of heartburn.”
“I think the thing that’s interesting is that he actually takes questions,” Psaki said. “He did a mini press conference. He takes questions nearly every day he’s out in front of the press.”
She added: “We’re never going to satisfy the White House press corps and their desires for access. And I think there have been mistakes made in the past of trying to do that.”
Psaki, who worked alongside Axelrod during the administration of former President Barack Obama, said Biden respects the role of the press, but also stressed the need to focus his time on pressing issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy.
“What we’ve tried to do is not get pulled in by distractions,” she said. “There are days where if he did a press conference, the questions would be about [Rep.] Liz Cheney, [Sen.] Mitch McConnell, [Rep.] Marjorie Taylor Greene and impeachment. What we’ve tried to do in general in how we use his time is think about what the public cares about.”
During the interview with Axelrod, Psaki also signaled that she planned to step down from her role next year, citing the desire to spend more time with her two children.