Watchdog: Psaki May Soon Find Herself Under Federal Investigation

(Patriot Insider) – A report from the folks over at the Washington Examiner has revealed that White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki might end up coming under federal investigation for using her current official position within the Biden administration to disparage the competitor of her potential future employer, according to a watchdog group that said such an inquiry would be carried out by the Office of Government Ethics and the Department of Justice.

“Reports circulated earlier this month that Psaki will soon leave government service to join MSNBC as a pundit after the network beat out CNN in a bidding war. While federal law requires officials to recuse themselves from any particular matters involving prospective future employers, Psaki continues to interact with MSNBC and CNN reporters during televised press briefings,” the report stated.

“Psaki publicly disparaged MSNBC competitor Fox News during an appearance Thursday on the left-wing podcast Pod Save America, saying the cable news network ‘might make anyone sound like a stupid son of a b****’ in reference to White House reporter Peter Doocy. The outgoing press secretary said the following day on Twitter she was not being critical of Doocy or any reporter at Fox News, but the watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust said the damage is already done,” the report continued.

“Jen Psaki’s reported efforts to secure a job with a major news organization while she serves as White House press secretary created a gauntlet of ethical obstacles,” PPT Director Michael Chamberlain went on to tell the Washington Examiner.

“Despite her statements to the contrary, she appears to be willing to simply plow through without any regard to these additional obligations,” Chamberlain continued. “Her latest — the demeaning of Fox News, a competitor of her prospective employer, while seeming to act in her official capacity — appears to be a misuse of her official position. Under the circumstances, it’s hard to see how the American public would not perceive the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

PPT then went on to state in a letter addressed to the Office of Government Ethics Director Emery Rounds and Department of Justice Public Integrity Section Chief Corey Amundson Tuesday that an investigation into a potential conflict of interest caused by the press secretary’s current job negotiations with the MSNBC network and CNN is warranted.

“In order to restore public trust and live up to Ms. Psaki’s own commitment to transparency and engagement, we are calling upon you to investigate whether Ms. Psaki violated her ethical duties, either in her remarks regarding Fox News or in her conduct while negotiating non-federal employment more generally,” the watchdog went on to state in the letter.

The group also made a request that the White House release all records that are related to the job negotiations between Psaki and her possible future employers, “including, but not limited to, records of any formal recusals, Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 (STOCK Act) notifications, and records of advice the White House Counsel’s Office has provided to Ms. Psaki to aide compliance during her job search.”

Psaki stated during a press briefing held on April 1 that she has received “rigorous ethics counseling” and has made several recusals as a result of her potential employment negotiations, however, she did not provide any specifics.

Several ethics experts spoke with the Washington Examiner back in the early part of April saying that Psaki’s pending move over to MSNBC raises some serious ethical concerns.

“It bothered me when this sort of thing happened in the last administration and bothers me to see it happen in this administration,” Walter Shaub, former President Barack Obama’s ethics chief, previously told the news outlet.

Shaub, who is now a senior ethics fellow with the Project on Government Oversight, has also called on the White House to release details about Psaki’s recusals.

“There are some things a press officer might normally participate in that do directly affect the financial interests of a media outlet, such as deciding which outlets get credentialed to participate in White House briefings or giving an exclusive to one outlet, so I’m guessing they’re requiring her to recuse from any of those types of activities,” Shaub remarked.

“I think the White House should take this opportunity to offer the public some transparency into its thinking,” he said. “The White House should tell the public what types of things they’re allowing her to do and what parts of her job she won’t be able to do as a result of this employment arrangement.”

“Caitlin Sutherland, the executive director of the conservative watchdog group Americans for Public Trust, also said reports of Psaki’s imminent departure to join MSNBC raise ethical concerns,” the Washington Examiner reported.

“A serious conflict of interest can arise when a sitting press secretary leverages her position to negotiate employment with a media outlet,” Sutherland previously stated during a conversation with the Washington Examiner. “Unless the White House takes strict, material steps to ensure Ms. Psaki is in full compliance with laws, a simple press conference could turn into serious legal and ethical consequences.”

Copyright 2022.

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