Tensions have reportedly been boiling over in the White House between press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security spokesman John Kirby regarding how much time is split between the two at the podium, according to several sources.
Jean-Pierre and Kirby have been sharing the podium more frequently since the onset of the war between Israel and Hamas. Sources within the White House have told Axios the two have been arguing about the shared time at the podium and how there are seemingly two press secretaries, one for domestic policy and one for foreign policy, rolled into one position.
Since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, leaving more than 1,200 people dead and more than 200 people taken as hostages, Jean-Pierre held one briefing or gaggle on Air Force One with reporters. Since then, she is usually accompanied by Kirby or National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
🚨🚨SCOOP-> White House podium battle: Tensions grow between Jean-Pierre and Kirby over who speaks for Biden. https://t.co/GWuwNvEM08
— Jim VandeHei (@JimVandeHei) January 5, 2024
Kirby, who has reportedly become a favorite of President Joe Biden‘s and frequently briefs him, has expressed to people that he has ambitions to become press secretary one day. Meanwhile, Jean-Pierre has indicated that she intends to stay in her position until the upcoming 2024 presidential election.
After the election, Jean-Pierre has indicated to people that she will remain in her position if Biden still wants her, adding he has not asked her to leave her position.
During the briefings, Jean-Pierre decides which reporters Kirby will take questions from, a reported standard practice that is done with briefing room guests. Kirby has expressed that this practice is being done out of frustration with him, according to the outlet.
A White House official denied any spat between the two, saying that they “talk all the time.”
“I don’t recognize this description of their relationship at all,” the White House official told the outlet. “The truth is the opposite – they talk all the time and have a collegial and collaborative rapport.”
Though the splitting of the podium is a more recent development in the aftermath of Hamas’ attack on Israel, Jean-Pierre was suspicious of Kirby from the start, White House sources told the outlet. After Biden offered Jean-Pierre the position in 2022, he informed her that Kirby would be joining her as a team, leaving her confused, according to three people familiar with her comments.
Upon finding out that Kirby would be joining their team, the National Security Council (NSC) and the White House settled on giving him the position of “coordinator for strategic communications” with his job focusing on public communications.
This article appeared originally on Independent Journal Review (IJR).