Psaki
© Wikipedia / U.S. Department of State
Psaki with Russian counterpart Maria Zakharova, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Paris, January 13, 2014
Here's a blast from the past! Joe Biden has chosen Russian sanctions aficionado Jen Psaki, the blooper making face of Obama-era foreign policy, to be his main spokesperson when he presumably moves into the White House in January.

Psaki will join the seven-strong, all-woman communications unit as White House press secretary. She had previously been a spokeswoman for the State Department, where she frequently defended a policy of sanctions and increased diplomatic tensions with Russia. In 2015, she condemned fighting in the east of Ukraine, and claimed "there can also be no mistake about Russia's role in the escalation of violence."

However, Psaki has at times seemed warmer to Russia. At a meeting in Paris, she posed with her then-boss, former secretary of state John Kerry, as well as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. With her arms around her counterparts, Psaki smiled for the camera, wearing a traditional Russian fur ushanka hat, emblazoned with the Soviet hammer and sickle.


In 2014, RT produced a compilation of purported failures during her time in office, saying that she "seems to be reporters' favorite spokesperson to laugh at." Mis-steps were said to include an implication that Russia imports natural gas from Western Europe, through Ukraine, rather than the other way around, and refusing to take follow-up questions from an RT reporter who had asked about the US' role in violence in the country.

Psaki has also hit back at Russian media, telling the Wall Street Journal that there was "a new form of creativity in terms of their efforts to misconstrue the facts on the ground."

However, Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov played down the impact Psaki might have on ties with Russia. Speaking to journalists on Monday, he said that it was an internal matter and that it would be Biden's stance that set the tone for relations. "Foreign policy is formulated by the head of state, at least in our country. And, of course, much of it depends on the US President," he added.

While the Kremlin has been at pains to avoid being seen to take sides in the US election, and has said it will only congratulate a winner once the result is confirmed by the Electoral College, there are a number of areas where clashes with a Biden administration are possible. An avowed supporter of NATO, Biden has repeatedly positioned Russia as a threat to Europe and America, and Russian President Vladimir Putin noted a "sharp anti-Russia rhetoric" during his campaign.



'We have a deficit, they have a lot of oil': Biden may tap career Russiagater with creative economic ideas for top budgeting post

Neera Tanden
© REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
Neera Tanden
An Obamacare architect, former Hillary Clinton adviser and career Russiagater, Neera Tanden, has been tapped as potential budget office director under Biden, setting Twitter on fire with recollections of her toxic track record.

Tanden was a healthcare adviser under the Barack Obama administration and helped draft his brainchild the Affordable Care Act. A close ally of Hillary Clinton during her unsuccessful 2016 presidential run, she currently heads the pro-Clinton think tank Center for American Progress. Although born and raised in the United States, Tanden's parents are immigrants from India.

The mainstream media have praised her potentially becoming "the first woman of color and the first South Asian American to lead the Office of Management and Budget."

Known for her combative tweeting, Tanden seems to have a habit of clashing with anyone who questions the wisdom of the Democratic Party's political machine.


Journalist Vincent Bevins joked that her potential nomination should be seen as an inspiration which "shows that a lifetime of posting cringe is not a barrier to higher office."

Grayzone writer and assistant editor Ben Norton labelled Tanden a "neoliberal troll" who "hates the left with a burning passion and spends all her time on here attacking leftists." In fact, Tanden was openly hostile towards supporters of Vermont senator and two-time presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. The left-leaning lawmaker accused Tanden last year of "maligning my staff & supporters and belittling progressive ideas."

Her hostility towards those critical of Clinton reportedly even led to physical scuffles. In 2008, Tanden is said to have assaulted a staffer after he asked Clinton a critical question about the Iraq war.

Conservative pundit Mike Cernovich described Tanden as a "garden variety resistance troll," although this description arguably doesn't do justice to her impressive output of Russiagate-related outbursts.

She was a militant disciple of the debunked theory that Donald Trump's presidential campaign was in cahoots with Moscow, floating countless bizarre allegations, including, but certainly not limited to, the proposition that Russian hackers had infiltrated Florida's voting system with Trump's full knowledge during the 2016 election.


Tanden provocatively alleged that WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange engaged in "fascist behavior" by publishing leaked State Department emails and other US documents.

Her foreign policy views have also raised eyebrows. She (in)famously suggested Libya should provide compensation, in the form of oil, to the US as a means of repayment for its "liberation." A US-led NATO intervention in 2011 turned the North African nation into a safe haven for warlords, terrorists and human traffickers.

"Given tonight's news, I hope oil-rich countries around the world are increasing the security on their rigs and drilling sites," journalist Glenn Greenwald quipped, citing an email of Tanden's that was leaked to the Intercept.


"We have a giant deficit. They have a lot of oil. Most Americans would choose not to engage in the world because of that deficit. If we want to continue to engage in the world, gestures like having oil rich countries partially pay us back doesn't seem crazy to me," she wrote in the message.

Tanden's positions on budgetary issues have been similarly controversial, and could signal what she would advocate for if she takes the reins at the Office of Management and Budget. In 2012, she urged the Obama administration to cut Social Security.

"If we're going to have a deal to address long-term deficit reduction, we need to put both entitlements on the table as well as taxes," she said at the time.

However, Tanden's appointment would need to be confirmed by the Senate, which appears to be a tall order given her less-than-diplomatic approach to politics.

"Neera Tanden, who has an endless stream of disparaging comments about the Republican Senators whose votes she'll need, stands zero chance of being confirmed," Republican Sen. John Cornyn's communications director, Drew Brandewie, wrote on Twitter.

Reporter Matt Zeitlin noted that senators would likely "have Neera Tanden's tweets blown up on a posterboard and then ask her to explain them under oath," a scenario which he described as a "nightmare."