Press Briefing by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
2:05 P.M. EDT
MS. MCENANY: Hello, everyone. There has been no greater champion for rectifying racial and income disparities in America's educational system than President Trump.
Every child regardless of race, income level, or zip code deserves an equal playing field of opportunity to access the American Dream. Making that goal a reality begins in our schools. The evidence is clear: An analysis of 41 major urban areas found that black and Hispanic students made the largest gains in educational access because of school choice, according to a CREDO study.
That is why President Trump has been clear in saying in his State of the Union: "For too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools. To rescue these students, 18 states have created school choice in the form of Opportunity Scholarships. The programs are so popular that tens of thousands of students remain on a waiting list." Now I go — "I call on Congress to give 1 million American children the same opportunity…Pass the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunities Act," he said, "because no parents should be forced to send their child to a failing government school."
Well, now, if Democrats have their way, children will not have access to schools at all. And that is not acceptable to President Trump. President Trump continues to fight for equal opportunity in our schools by boldly and firmly underscoring the absolute necessity of America's schools to reopen this fall. The data is clear: Sustained school closures hurt students who have fewer resources the most.
McKinsey and Co. created these models — I have some graphs for you — to estimate the potential impact of school closures, and they found this, quote: "How much learning students lose during school closures vary significantly by access to remote learning, the quality of remote instruction, home support, and the degree of engagement."
As you can see in this chart, students who experience average-quality remote learning progress, but at a slower pace; students who are getting lower-quality remote learning stagnate at current grade levels; and students who are not getting instruction at home lose significant ground with some students dropping out altogether.
As you can see in the three scenarios mapped on this graph, if students return to school in the fall, the disparities are far less than if they return in January of next year or the fall of next year, where disparities and learning are enormous.
But school closures affect more than just learning. As the NAACP has pointed out, "For students of color at all levels across the country, school closings create problems even more urgent than the interruption of their educations. Schools also serve as a community nexus for food and for housing."
Rest assured that President Trump knows more than anyone the importance of opening our schools, which is why he has been the most vocal advocate for reopening. And President Trump's America — make no mistake that he will continue to be the biggest fighter for equal opportunity in our schools and continued access to the American Dream for all.
And with that, I'll take questions.
Q: Thank you, Kayleigh. I'm just curious: After today's Supreme Court rulings, how is President Trump feeling about the two justices that he appointed to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who ruled against him today?
MS. MCENANY: Well, the justices are entitled to their opinion. This is an independent branch of government.
But as for the decision, President Trump underscored to me — I was just in the Oval Office with him — that it was Justice Kavanaugh who pointed out in the New York State court case that there was unanimous agreement that this should be remanded to DC, to the — excuse me, to the district court, where the President may raise constitutional and legal arguments. That was unanimous agreement.
Also, there was a note in the Roberts opinion that the New York State case — basically, the grand jury said that they were prohibited from arbitrary fishing expeditions, and initiating investigations out of malice or intent to harass. So that language made it pretty clear that this was a win for the President.
Q: So when you were speaking to the President in the Oval Office, did he have anything to say specifically about Justices Gorsuch or Kavanaugh?
MS. MCENANY: We didn't speak specifically about the two justices.
Q: Okay. And if I could, one question about the CDC's guidelines. Yesterday — about reopening schools. Yesterday, the Vice President came out and said that — he said that the CDC was going to be putting out new guidelines next week, in terms of reopening. But the head of the CDC, he was on another network this morning and said that they would not be changing those guidelines; they would just be putting out some additional document. So can you explain the discrepancy between those two?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, the CDC director noted that there would be additional guidance; the Vice President noted that as well. But we're on the same page with Dr. Redfield who has said, "I don't want this guidance to be a reason for schools not to be — to reopen." And he said that these were not meant to be prescriptions; they are guidelines. Ultimately, it's up to state and local governments as to what their guidelines look like. There are 47 states who have issued their own guidelines so far.
I would also note that the CDC recognizes in their guidelines that many of these things that they're recommending are not feasible, which is why they use the words "not possible" 18 times and "not feasible" 9 times.
We want our schools to reopen. It's imperative for the health and wellbeing of the child.
Q: Thanks, Kayleigh. You said yesterday that you would ask the President whether he supports the idea of staggered school reopening schedules, where kids go to school on some days and not others. Did you have a chance to talk to him?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, I did endeavor to get with him on that today, but because of the Supreme Court ruling, we didn't quite get to that yet. But it is on my list of things to follow up with him about.
Q: And then to follow up, so — I'm sorry, it's two different things that the Vice President and Dr. Redfield described. One was changing the guidelines — the guidance that is the previously released, and what Dr. Redfield discussed this morning was just adding supplemental guidance. Which of those is actually happening? And is the White House, in addition, also planning to release its own guidance?
MS. MCENANY: Well, I think Dr. Redfield was noting he doesn't plan to rescind the current guidance texts out there. It will be supplemental guidance, but these are not requirements and not prescriptive — was the way he characterized the initial guidance. And he said that this guidance should not be used as a reason for schools not to reopen.
We all have the same goal here, and it's for schools to reopen because the health of the child absolutely depends on it. And it's imperative, as the presentation I showed, to rectify disparities that we get these schools open.
Q: And is the White House releasing an additional document as well?
MS. MCENANY: I have no announcements on that. None in the works, but it doesn't mean that it won't happen.
Q: Thank you, Kayleigh. I'll try to barrel through these quickly. Are the President's taxes still under audit, and specifically which years?
MS. MCENANY: The President's taxes are still under audit. I don't have years for you.
Q: Okay. Let me ask you, if I can: He could release his taxes at any time. This case went all the way to the Supreme Court. His own nominees ruled against him. Why shouldn't the American public, at this point, believe that the President has something he's trying to hide?
MS. MCENANY: First, let me note something: The taxes are under audit. He said he released — he would release them when they are no longer under audit. The justices did not —
Q: Obviously, he can do whatever he likes. Do you agree?
MS. MCENANY: The justices did not rule against him. In fact, it was a unanimous opinion saying that this needs to go back to the district court. And they even recognized that the President has an ample arsenal of arguments that he can make.
And, in fact, I would show that the Vance majority laid out a roadmap for the President. The Vance majority said the President has "the right to challenge the subpoena on any grounds permitted by state law," be it "bad faith or undue burden or breadth."
They went on to say the President can raise subpoena-specific constitutional challenges, and they specifically mentioned a violation of the supremacy clause as one thing that he can raise.
So they essentially laid out a roadmap. This — his justices did not rule against him.
Q: So to be clear — okay, fine. I don't dispute anything that you just said. What I'm asking, though, is the President — whatever the court says, the President can release his taxes whenever he likes. So why shouldn't Americans, at this point, believe that the President isn't trying to hide something in there?
MS. MCENANY: You know, the media has been asking this question for four years, and for four years, the President has said the same thing: His taxes are under audit, and when they're no longer under audit, he will release them.
But I would also note the excruciating ruling for House Democrats who were very much called out for their partisan games. They also subpoenaed the President's information — financial information. And Justice Roberts said, "Far from accounting for separation of powers concerns, the House's approach aggravates them by leaving essentially no limits on the congressional power to subpoena the President's personal records."
So leave it to House Democrats, who did a partisan impeachment, a political witch hunt against this President — and this was yet another part, only to be rebuked by the Supreme Court.
Q: Let me ask about coronavirus. Just my follow-up, if I may, on coronavirus, quickly, Kayleigh. Hospitalizations in the country are up 50 percent since mid-June. How can the President say that the country is in "good shape" right now?
MS. MCENANY: So, I would note, with hospitalizations, in a lot of these hospitals — I spoke with Dr. Birx this morning -about 10 to 40 percent in the hospitals reaching high capacity are COVID, so a lot of hospitalizations aren't pertaining to COVID.
What I would also note, and I'm glad —
Q: So the growth in hospitalizations is not because of COVID?
MS. MCENANY: Well, a lot of it is elective surgeries and other surgeries that have opened up. About 10 to 40 percent in the hospitals reaching capacity are COVID-related. But I'm glad that you asked about COVID because I do want to take a moment to highlight some of the things that the federal government has done.
Q: Can you answer my question first on why we're in good shape right now with hospitalizations going up, in spite of what you said about elective surgeries?
MS. MCENANY: Well, one of the things I would note is the mortality rate, which has had — if you look at the week in numbers — a tenfold decrease. You could argue an even greater decrease if you compare to some of our highest days. We're seeing the fatality rate in this country come down. That is a very good thing.
We grieve when any one — even one life is lost, but I think it's progress as we enter the next phase of this.
Q: But aren't a lot of other people seriously ill, Kayleigh?
Q: Thank you, Kayleigh. On China: So the administration today will announce some sanctions against high-level Chinese officials over —
MS. MCENANY: Yes.
Q: — the Uyghur abuses. But can you speak overall what that does to the U.S. relationship with China, and does it jeopardize the phase one deal?
MS. MCENANY: Look, I think with regard to — I look at these Magnitsky Act sanctions, and the administration does, not with regard to phase one China deal. These are very serious sanctions that were put in place by this administration to take strong action against the human rights abuses of the Chinese Communist Party.
I just want to emphasize and underscore that we sanctioned officials, several of them: the Party's secretary, his former deputy, and its current Party secretary; it's — also its former — its former Party secretary. So that was three.
And today's announcement is the latest in a series of actions by the Trump administration. So it's not just these sanctions that were put in place. There were export patrols -controls. The President signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act.
So we've taken a very strong stance on the side of human rights and against the atrocities we've seen. And just so the American public knows, some of these atrocities have been forced abortions and sterilizations and really despicable things that have been done.
Q: So the message you're communicating to the Chinese is that this issue is separate from the phase one trade agreement (inaudible)?
MS. MCENANY: It's a — human rights is a paramount issue; it's very important. We took action. We've crafted a phase one deal, and we hope the Chinese government will honor that.
Q: Thanks, Kayleigh. You mentioned that the Court decision today was a win. It didn't — it didn't sound, from the President's tweets this morning, that he viewed it that way. Has his thinking on it changed as he's had more time to digest?
MS. MCENANY: No, the President was making a general point about deference on the principle of absolute immunity, which is the posture that the admin- — that the President took in court. You know, he believes there should have been more deference there.
Justice Alito, citing the Harvard Law Review, made a very good point that, "Constitutionally speaking, the President never sleeps. The President must be ready, at a moment's notice, to do whatever it takes to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and the American people." And we wish there would have been more deference to that point of view.
But it is a big win, as Justice Kavanaugh noted, that all nine justices said this needs to be remanded back to the lower court and that, in fact, the attorney, Cy Vance, had not established his ability to secure access to those records. Instead, further proceedings are required.
Q: But giving — giving the opportunity for the U.S. Attorney in New York to look at those documents is no doubt not something the President is happy about. I'm wondering, in general, if after this ruling and the ruling on DACA, the ruling on LGBT rights, the ruling on the census, whether the President regrets at all his criticism of judges, in particular Justice Roberts — Chief Justice Roberts.
MS. MCENANY: No, I think what the President — what has been underscored to him after all of these rulings is that, you know, we need more conservative justices on the court. And that's something he's very strong about; it prompted him to say he'll release a list of more conservative justices he wants on the court.
So I think that's been the big takeaway, not particularly with regard to this ruling, but with the previous ones that you mentioned.
Q: But there are — there are conservative judges on the court now. It's a 5 to 4 —
MS. MCENANY: Yes, and then there was a 9 to 0 unanimous decision that this needed to be remanded, and there was a roadmap, as I noted — a roadmap set forward on how to proceed in the lower court. And there were several arguments proposed that the President could make in lower court.
Q: I've got two questions for you. One, on these rulings today: The Supreme Court is rejecting this assertion from the President that he is immune to investigation while he's in office. Does he agree that he is not immune?
MS. MCENANY: Well, where the President stands is he still maintains his initial position, and he agrees with Justice Thomas in the dissent, who said, "The demands on the President's time and the importance of his tasks are extraordinary, and the Office of the President cannot be delegated to subordinates. A subpoena imposes both demands on the President's limited time and a…burden." And he went on to describe that position. So he agrees with the dissent.
Q: But they agreed that he's not immune.
MS. MCENANY: He agrees with the dissent by Justice Thomas. So he takes issue with the point that the majority made on absolute immunity, but nevertheless, I would underscore the victory here as Cy Vance, the attorney, was not given what he wanted, which was access to the records.
Q: So he still thinks immunity is — he's immune to investigation?
MS. MCENANY: The President still stands beside the posture that he made. He accepts any Supreme Court opinion as the law of the land, but nevertheless, doesn't change his viewpoint. He can disagree with the opinion but he certainly will follow it.
Q: And on coronavirus —
Q: Kayleigh —
MS. MCENANY: Yes.
Q: — my second question, on coronavirus — I'll be quick: You're saying that you don't want these CDC guidelines to be one size fits all, overly prescriptive about how these schools reopen. So why is the administration making it one size fits all that they all need to reopen fully and at the same time?
MS. MCENANY: Because there's a way to safely do it, and there's a lot at stake. You know, I mentioned the 67,000 pediatricians represented by the American Academy of Pediatrics who say it's imperative schools reopen. That was underscored by another 1,500 United Kingdom pediatricians.
The costs are high when — you know, your network, CNN, is reporting about child abuse. I mentioned this study yesterday. It was a good — a good piece by CNN that —
Q: But no one — no one — no one is disagreeing with the assertion.
MS. MCENANY: — in Massachusetts alone, reports of alleged child abuse dropped almost 55 percent because when kids are not in school, a lot of times we don't catch that abuse. The costs are too high to keep schools shut down. They can safely reopen; even the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that. And the President is going to stand on the side of the child always.
Q: And no one is disagreeing with that about child abuse. But I'm saying, how can you say you're not going to tell all the schools how to reopen but you're going to tell them all when to reopen?
MS. MCENANY: There are forty- —
Q: That doesn't make sense.
MS. MCENANY: There are 47 guidelines issued by the states. There's local guidelines that have been put in place. This can be done safely. It can be done well. And the American Academy of Pediatrics — I've pointed out a lot of what they put out — they put out their own set of guidelines. There's number of guidelines floating out there, and we believe there's a way to safely do this, and a child will always come first in this administration.
Q: Thank you, Kayleigh. A logical follow-up to Kaitlan's first line of questioning, though, is: If the President still believes he has absolute immunity, it makes him sound as though he thinks he's above the law while he's President of the United States, at least.
MS. MCENANY: It's a very — it's almost as if folks don't understand a legal term of art. "Absolute immunity" is a legal term of art. And, you know, I can go and describe that, and maybe I can best describe that by quoting Alexander Hamilton, who was referenced in the Thomas opinion.
And Alexander Hamilton really created the posture and the outlook that laid the foundation for the notion of absolute immunity. And it was this: "Energy in the executive is [a] leading character in the definition of good government. It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks; it is not less essential to the steady administration of the laws; to the protection of property against those irregular and high-handed combinations which sometimes interrupt the ordinary course of justice; to the security of liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of faction, and of anarchy…A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of the government."
And the point he was making is that the executive in imbued with many constitutional authorities, many responsibilities to protect this nation from threats, foreign and domestic. And he must be able to operate unencumbered. That's where the proposition of absolute immunity comes from, and that is what the administration was defending in court. And we are pleased by the 9 to 0 opinion to send this back to the lower court, though we're not pleased by the absolute immunity component.
Q: But perhaps — could you — Kayleigh, could you expand a little bit on Education Secretary DeVos's comments today about he's not going to cut funding to schools, but to shift funding to families? Do you know what that means?
And the second question, unrelated, is: Does the White House have a comment on the retirement yesterday of Colonel Vindman from the Army?
MS. MCENANY: So to your first question, I did not see Secretary DeVos's comments. But as you describe them, it leads me to believe that it was a reference to the President's tweet yesterday about changing education funding if schools don't reopen.
As I noted yesterday, what this administration's goal is, is that funding be tied to the child, not to a school district where schools are staying closed. That's our paramount guiding principle. As to what that looks like in action, that will be forthcoming. We're hopeful that all the schools reopen in the nation; that's the goal. And we are hopeful for more education funding in phase four, as I noted.
And with Colonel Vindman, you know, I'm not going to focus or comment on a former junior employee. I know the White House has not spoken to him since he left, and I would refer you for further to the Army.
Q: Was there any pressure from the White House to — for him to retire?
MS. MCENANY: No.
Q: Kayleigh, picking up on the coronavirus questions and schools, though: North Carolina, for instance, has seen a record high number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations — more than 1,000 today — and that's a five-day rising count for those hospitalizations. So it's the White House's position that schools in North Carolina and hard-hit areas by coronavirus should absolutely reopen next month?
MS. MCENANY: It is our opinion that schools should reopen, and I'd refer you to Dr. Redfield, who said yesterday — head of CDC: "This virus has a very limited effect on kids." He went on to say, "Unlike the flu, kids are not driving the transmission cycle." He's in agreement with Dr. Scott Atlas, former Chief of Neuroradiology at Stanford, who said, "Children under 18 have virtually zero risk of death from COVID, virtually zero risk of serious illness," which was also underscored by Yale School of Public Health Professor Albert Ko.
The bottom line is that the impacts of COVID-19 on children is minimal, or very low, compared to other age groups. But you know what is at risk for children, is people not reporting child abuse; is these very serious consequences that are at play; and the educational disparity I noted when kids stay home from school.
Q: Dr. Birx also said yesterday, however, that there wasn't enough data on how this affects children because they weren't originally testing children at the same rate as adults. But to the point about places like, again, North Carolina, where they have been hard hit, do you think that they should absolutely reopen next month?
MS. MCENANY: We believe that they should absolutely reopen the schools in this country; that kids are at very low risk. And I would also quote to you the American Academy of Pediatrics. I would venture to say those 67,000 pediatricians care very deeply about the children that they treat. And they have said that children and adolents [sic] are at considerable risk of morbidity, and in some cases mortality, should they stay home from school. This President will fight for the health and wellbeing of children.
Q: Thank you, Kayleigh. A study that came out of Detroit last week about hydroxychloroquine, which the President tweeted about, showed that it cuts deaths in half, yet the American people have been told by government agencies like the FDA and some government medical experts that it is not effective for coronavirus. So what is the American people supposed to think? What is the official position from the administration on this possible therapy?
MS. MCENANY: So I'm glad you've asked this. The President has always said that he sees hydroxychloroquine as a very promising prophylactic, but that every person should not take it unless they get a prescription from their doctor. That's paramount, very important. The President has taken it himself as a prophylactic.
And I would note that there's been a lot of wrong studies out there that were heavily touted. Like, there is a Lancet study that was published, and many in the media pounced on this Lancet study and it questioned hydroxychloroquine. And you had folks like NBC's Glenn Kirschner saying the President should resign over the Lancet study, questioning hydroxychloroquine. And CNN spent over 90 minutes heralding the study that's now debunked, that has been detracted.
But what we have found — though the Lancet study has been retracted, we have seen a Henry Ford Health Systems study. And that Henry Ford Health Systems study showed that it is very promising, leading CNN to now tweet a surprising new study found that the controversial anti-malarial drug, hydroxychloroquine, helped COVID-19 patients better survive in hospitals. And the CEO of Henry Ford Medical Group said it's important to note that, in the right settings, this potentially could be a lifesaver for patients.
So our position where we always were, where the President was weeks and weeks before the study ever came out: that this was a promising drug, but it should only be taken in consultation with your doctor.
Q: So is the — is the FDA going to reauthorize it for emergency use?
MS. MCENANY: I would refer you to the FDA on that.
Q: Okay. And one more, if I may, on a follow-up to what the President talked about a few weeks ago regarding Antifa, saying that his administration planned to designate it as a terrorist organization. We haven't really heard anything else about that. Is that still the plan? Or when is that happening?
MS. MCENANY: So that was the Department of Justice saying that they will prosecute these cases as domestic terrorist cases, so I'd refer you to the DOJ as to how that's working operationally. But the DOJ has arrested many individuals, including seven out in Portland, Oregon, for a variety of offenses, including attacks on law enforcement.
So we're working hard to ensure that Antifa does not dominate the streets. This administration stands against that kind of lawlessness.
Q: Does the President think they should still be designated a terrorist organization?
MS. MCENANY: The President stands by what he said.
Q: Thank you, Kayleigh. My question — one question on Cyrus Vance, the New York DA who is demanding Trump's taxes. Vance has a troubling history of protecting predators and attacking Republicans. Case in point for non-New Yorkers: In 2011, he worked to reduce Epstein's sexual predator status; in 2015, NYPD had audio evidence of Weinstein admitting rape, and Vance's office refused to prosecute. All this while attacking President Trump's family and their enterprises.
Given this history, what is President Trump's view of Vance from both a personal standpoint and a political standpoint? Is this Vance just — I mean, is he just politically abusing the court system? What is President Trump's view on him?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, you raise some very some very good points about the partisan attorney in Manhattan. You know, Justice Alito said this in his opinion, and it really stood out to me. He said, "As for the potential use of subpoenas to harass, we need not ‘exhibit a naiveté from which ordinary citizens are free.'" "As we have recognized, a President is ‘an easily identifiable target.'" "There are more than 2,300 local prosecutors and district attorneys in the country…Many local prosecutors are elected, and many prosecutors have ambitions for higher elected office."
Bring in Cy Vance, a Democrat, someone who — Justice Thomas pointed out something very interesting. Justice Thomas noted that the district attorney for the county of New York, Cyrus Vance, served a subpoena on the President's personal accounting firm that, quote, "was nearly identical to a subpoena issued by a congressional committee, requesting nearly 10 years of the President's financial records."
So the partisan attorney, the Democrat from New York, is aiding and abetting the Democrats, the lawless Democrats like Nancy Pelosi who have pursued this President with bogus charges of collusion, with bogus charges in the impeachment inquiry, and are now pursuing this, only to be rebuked by the Supreme Court and assisted by Cy Vance.
Q: For non-lawyers, I mean, is there a legal recourse against overly political DAs out here? Or is this just a war on a different front?
MS. MCENANY: So I'd have to — yeah, you know, this was an individual who was elected at the state level, so I guess the recourse would be the ballot box.
But I would also note, just on that point, that, you know, you have President Obama and Vice President Bidend [sic] — Biden, who were caught spying on the Trump campaign, the opposition party. You had former Vice President Biden in the Oval Office, just before the inauguration, talking about the Logan Act, when later, the Logan Act was weaponized and used against Lieutenant General Michael Flynn in a way that was so unfair and a grave miscarriage of justice. But you have Obama and Biden who get away with this, but yet we need to go investigate President Trump. It really is quite nonsensical.
Q: Thanks, Kayleigh. In President Trump's tweets about the Supreme Court decisions this morning, he said he thinks the court treated him differently than it would have treated other presidents. So does he think this was a political decision by the Supreme Court, or that politics or personal views somehow entered into their legal reasoning?
MS. MCENANY: So I think you were referring to the tweet about broad deference. And what he was trying to note there - what he was noting was just that there was — should have been further deference to this notion, that I read by Alexander Hamilton and others, of absolute immunity to allow the executive and the President to do the very important job of protecting this country and all the other tasks given to a President of the United States.
Q: He said, "The Supreme Court gives a delay ruling that they would never have given for another President."
MS. MCENANY: Yeah. And one of the — I would also point you, with regard to that — I think Justice Alito hit on this. He said in the Clinton case, for example, the Court held that a sitting President could be sued in federal court, but the Court took pains to reserve judgment on the question of whether a comparable claim might succeed in the state tribunal. Any "direct control by a state court over the President," the Court observed, might raise concerns about protecting federal officers from "possible local prejudice."
So that is to say that even back in the Clinton case, where federal court prosecutions were green-lighted, they gave their grave reservations for a state court proceeding of this nature. So I think he was noticing — noting the distinguishing features there.
Q: I'd like to ask a clarifying question from something that was said earlier. The President, you said, would like to see more conservative justices. Is he comfortable with the number of nine justices? There's nothing in the law that says he has to only have nine. Would he consider appointing more?
MS. MCENANY: So the President has never mentioned adding other justices, but the Democrat Party has, as a way to get around, I guess, the rulings they don't like.
Q: And then I have a question about the unemployment numbers from today: 1.3 million additional claims in the last week, a bit of a slowing down of that recovery. Are you at all concerned that the numbers continue to be so high, still almost four months into continued unemployment claims?
MS. MCENANY: So I would note that the numbers fell 100,000. This was the 14th consecutive weekly decline that we've seen. And from its peak in late March, initial claims are down 5.6 million.
Also looking at continuing claims, a number — another metric that we — that came out today, they reflect actual benefit payments, and those fell 700,000 from its peak in May 8th — the week of May 8th, and they are down nearly 7 million.
And combined — as Larry Kudlow shared with me those facts — in May and June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 8 million jobs gain. And as Larry likes to say, the V-shaped rebound continues.
Q: But are there any concerns that those jobs are not returning fast enough? Particularly, today, the market seemed to notice the unemployment claims, more so than it has in recent weeks.
MS. MCENANY: I would say that the two jobs reports, the 8 million together — both record-breaking months — are very encouraging signs, and we like what we see on the horizon. Of course, there's more work to be done, but we have the jobs President at the helm to do that work.
Q: Hi. The health department director in Tulsa has said President Trump's rally there likely contributed to a big surge in coronavirus cases in the area. Does the President now regret holding that rally?
MS. MCENANY: So we have not seen data to reflect that, and, no, we don't regret holding the rally.
Q: Can I ask about the visit yesterday by the Mexican President? Can you tell us if President Trump discussed the issue of funding for the wall with the President? And if not, is that now a dead issue for the President?
MS. MCENANY: It didn't come up in the discussions that I was a part of, but I'm grateful that you bring up the wall, which is being built at accelerated pace — you know, more than 500 miles by the end of the year. And we really appreciate the help of the Mexican government in securing the border with the troops that they've provided.
Q: Does the President contend that the Mexican government still contribute, like, directly to fund —
MS. MCENANY: So, again, I'm not aware of their other discussions they may have had. But what I would note is the USMCA — that Mexico was a big part in making happen — is bringing tons and tons and tons of money and revenue into the United States, and we're very grateful for that.
Q: Hello. Thank you, Kayleigh. Two quick questions. First of all, given United Airlines' recent announcement that they might have to furlough some 36,000 workers, does the President support extending the aid that was already given to the airlines further?
And second, on vaccines, does the President have any views on whether or not K-through-12 students should be mandated to get vaccinated against COVID-19 once a vaccine is safe and effective?
MS. MCENANY: So I haven't talked to him either about that point, specifically on vaccinations, or the airline extension, but I can circle back.
And so, one thing — I think I got to everyone. So, just one last note I want to leave everyone with, because I do think it's a very important point, is just that there is a Rasmussen poll that came out recently that showed 64 percent of Americans are concerned about the growing criticism of America's police and that it will lead to a shortage of police officers and reduced public safety. And of all of the demographics polled, black Americans fear most for public safety, with 67 percent acknowledging their concern for this.
And this is why President Trump has taken action, calling strongly for law and order, and peace in our streets, and he's set the tone at the top for mayors and governors. Additionally, we've had the hundreds of federal arrests, the executive order that's enhanced our police departments, and Operation LeGend which I announced yesterday from the Justice Department in honor of LeGend Taliferro, a 4-year-old boy who was tragically killed in his sleep in Kansas City.
And as we head into the weekend — this our last press briefing of the week, and so I just wanted to make a plea for peace in our streets because far too many children have been lost. It's important to know their names. It's important to see their faces. And may we all hold in our prayer and keep close to our hearts the families of Natalia Wallace, who was 7; Mekhi James, who was
10 ; Vernado Jones Jr., who was 14; Sincere Gaston, who was 1; Lena Nunez, who was 10; Amaria Jones, who was 13; Davon McNeal, who was 11; and Secoriea Turner, down in Atlanta, who was 8.
Let's make sure we have peace in our streets this weekend and hold these families in our prayers.
END 2:37 P.M. EDT
Donald J. Trump, Press Briefing by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/343162