Jen Psaki, who was named to serve as President-elect Biden’s White House press secretary, is facing fresh scrutiny over a photo that shows her wearing a Russian hat that bears the communist hammer-and-sickle logo.
Psaki, who served in former President Obama’s State Department, was gifted the pink shapka, or fur hat, by her then-counterpart, spokesperson Maria Zakharova, in Russia. A photo from 2014 shows Psaki wearing the hat while posing with then-Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been appointed to serve as Biden’s “climate czar,” and Zakharova.
Also standing next to Psaki is Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov, who caught attention for an Oval Office meeting in 2017 where President Trump controversially shared U.S. intelligence with him.
The hammer and sickle has come to represent communist movements around the world. It also was a feature of the flag for the former Soviet Union, which spawned from Russia’s communist revolution and engaged in decades of brinksmanship in a “cold war” with the U.S. It has also become a symbol for brutal economic and political repression that occurs under communist regimes.
Biden’s transition team noted to Fox News that gift exchanges are common on foreign trips, referencing how Kerry previously gave Lavrov two Idaho potatoes during a meeting in Paris.
Psaki’s attire faced pushback from the Trump campaign on Monday.
Here’s Jen Psaki hugging Russia's Foreign Minister and Russia’s chief foreign affairs propagandist while wearing a pink hammer and sickle hat pic.twitter.com/WMJytaxd7J
— Matt Wolking (@MattWolking) November 30, 2020
“Here’s Jen Psaki hugging Russia’s Foreign Minister and Russia’s chief foreign affairs propagandist while wearing a pink hammer and sickle hat,” tweeted Trump campaign Deputy Director of Communications Matt Wolking.