John Kerry, Jen Psaki Go Maskless at White House Press Briefing

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Both White House press secretary Jen Psaki and special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry spoke without sporting masks during Wednesday’s press briefing.

The press conference featured Kerry and White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy, both of whom detailed the actions the Biden administration is taking to combat climate change, which progressives consider a central issue.

While Kerry removed his mask before speaking from the podium, McCarthy wore a mask as she spoke — sending a mixed message from the administration following President Biden’s order requiring masks to be worn on federal property, with limited exceptions:

Biden signed an order last week requiring “heads of executive departments and agencies” to “require compliance with CDC guidelines with respect to wearing masks,” as well as other mitigation measures, on federal property. Heads of agencies are permitted to make “categorical or case-by-case exceptions” but must document the exceptions in writing and “require appropriate alternative safeguards, such as additional physical distancing measures, additional testing, or reconfiguration of workspace, consistent with applicable law.”

It remains unclear if Psaki and Kerry have been granted exceptions in writing.

Psaki also did not wear a mask at the podium on Monday or Tuesday, and other officials, including Susan Rice and Dr. Anthony Fauci, have also spoken from the podium without a mask over the last week.

Biden signed new orders on climate change on Wednesday, announcing a ban on new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters.

During the presidential election, the then-Democrat candidate denied that he would move to ban fracking, accusing former President Trump of lying about him. “No, I would not shut down this industry. I know our Republican friends are trying to say I said that,” he said on the campaign trail.

In a Wednesday address, Biden claimed, again, that he is not banning fracking.

The president has canceled the Keystone XL pipeline and moved to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord in his first week in office.


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