Press Briefing by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:11 P.M. EDT
MS. MCENANY: Good afternoon, everyone. Two briefings ago I asked: "Where is Nancy Pelosi?" Today, I can announce: We have found Nancy Pelosi. As you can see, we found Nancy Pelosi going into her hair salon. We will be playing the video on loop for all of you to see during the duration of this introduction.
Nancy Pelosi was not in the halls of Congress when I asked where she was. She was not working in good faith to make a deal for the American people. Nope. Nancy Pelosi was found in San Francisco, at a hair salon, where she was indoors, even though salons in California are not — only open for outdoor service. Apparently, the rules do not apply to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She wants small businesses to stay shut down but only reopen for her convenience. "Do as I say, not as I do," says Nancy Pelosi.
Nancy Pelosi is holding up $1.3 trillion in relief for the American people, while getting special access to the very kind of small businesses that this money would support, businesses like this hair salon.
Before she skipped town to violate her state's health guidelines, Pelosi proposed a bill. It was called the HEROES Act, which contained no additional Paycheck Protection funding. This is funding that would help the very small business she has bizarrely accused of plotting against her.
The President sees through Democrats' disregard for Americans in need, and he took action, unilaterally, on his own accord. He provided relief from evictions. He provided unemployment insurance. He paused student loan payments. And he cut the payroll tax, putting money in American people's pockets.
Congress also failed to authorize funding to provide children with free lunches for the 2020-2021 school year.
And again, President Trump, with Senior Advisor Ivanka Trump, took action. And now USDA has extended a summer program which will ensure children continue to have access to free meals through the end of the year.
Nancy Pelosi is demanding an apology from a single mother and small-business owner who has received threats since Nancy Pelosi's comments against her salon. Salon owner Erica Kious said this: "Since this happened, I have received nothing but hate text messages, death threats, saying they're going to burn down my hair salon. It's just sad that my community is pulling this, saying that I threw her under the bus when I did not. So, that's hurtful. But, yes, I think I'm pretty much done now."
Nancy Pelosi, you ought to apologize to the American people, or better yet, come back to Washington and get to work for hardworking Americans like this salon owner that you maligned and demanded an apology from.
And with that, I'll take questions.
Q: Kayleigh, do you acknowledge that it is illegal in this country to vote twice in the same election?
MS. MCENANY: Are you referring to the President's comments earlier today?
Q: I'm just asking you a basic yes or no question: Do you —
MS. MCENANY: The President — the President does not —
Q: — do you believe it is illegal to vote twice in this country?
MS. MCENANY: The President does not condone unlawful voting. The President has been very clear about this. I'm, once again, not surprised the media is taking the President out of context. Do you recall what the President said on this matter, specifically?
Q: I have it — I have it right here. Sure.
MS. MCENANY: Okay, maybe you should read it out for me then.
Q: Okay, so the President said that you should go to your poll — you should vote early by mail and you should go either early voting or day of and try to vote again. So, he is asking people to vote by mail and then to go down to the polling place on Election Day and to vote again, if their vote has — if they can't confirm their vote has been counted.
MS. MCENANY: You're missing a very crucial line from the President's remarks: "If it is not tabulated," meaning your mail-in vote, then you're able to vote in person. "If it is not tabulated." This is why —
Q: Kayleigh, but there are at least five states in this country that do not count any mail-in votes until Election Day. So those votes won't be counted until afterwards. So there's no way to know whether or not their vote is counted.
MS. MCENANY: There's a very simple answer, and this is how it works: First, a lot of states have what are called "electronic poll books," and what this means is that, in real time, this is updated. So if your vote is counted, they check the electronic poll book, and you will not be able to vote in person because your vote has been counted.
There's a secondary situation. So those who do not have electronic poll books — every single state in the country, you can cast a provisional ballot, and that is a ballot that is there. And if your — if your vote that you have not mailed in is not counted, they will then count the provisional ballot. And that is exactly what the President is referring to.
But what Democrats are doing is saying this: We want an entire new system for voting, one subject to fraud. Don't take it from me; take it from Jimmy Carter, who said in 2005, as part of a bipartisan commission, "Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud." So what Democrats want you to do is say, "Trust us, but don't verify. Don't verify that your vote has been counted."
This President is trying to enfranchise Americans, which is exactly what he's been saying. He wants every American to have a vote, because he understands what Jimmy Carter understood and what so many of us understood — until the President started putting the focus on mail-in voting — and that was this: That it is subject to fraud, every vote should count, and every American should verify that their vote is counted by going to their polling location.
Q: But what do you say to the executive director of the —
MS. MCENANY: John.
Q: — of the North Carolina Board of Electors who says that this would be — create a big problem on Election Night?
MS. MCENANY: What I would say is that the President has laid it out very clearly: You should verify your vote. And not only that, I would point them to the fact that, in 2016, before we tried this entire new system of mass mail-out voting, 319,000 votes were not counted that were cast by mail — 319,000 — in an election that came down, really, to 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. That's untenable. And hundreds, thousands more will not be counted with the Democrats' fraudulent mass mail-out voting system. The President wants enfranchisement, plain and simple.
Q: Can I ask a process and jurisdiction question? The President signed a memorandum last night directing federal agencies to look at funds that might be withheld to city as — to cities that do not do enough to restore law and order. By what authority does the President believe he can do that?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, the President believes that what we should do — that the purpose of government is to protect life, liberty, and property; that is the purpose of the federal government. And it's imperative that the federal government review the use of funds by jurisdiction.
So what this does — this memo — it really does three things: One, it asks federal agencies to detail all federal funds that are being provided to Seattle, Portland, New York City, and Washington, D.C. Secondly, within 14 days, the Attorney General will develop a list of anarchist jurisdictions of lawlessness zones that are permitting violence and destruction of property. And then within 30 days, the White House budget director will "issue guidance to the heads of agencies on restricting eligibility of or otherwise disfavoring, to the maximum extent [possible] by law, anarchists jurisdictions in the receipt of federal grants…"
Carolina [Dakota] v. Dole did note that you can withhold funding so long as it pertains to — the federal program pertains to what you're trying to incentivize. So we believe here, when you look at New York, a 177 percent increase in shootings; in Seattle, where there was a lawless CHOP zone where two died; in Portland, where you've seen 140 officers injured: This is a dereliction of duty.
And if the states will not act in their police power and secure their streets, this President will use every lawful mechanism available to him to try to supplement their failures. And in some cases, that's meant federal officers — in Minneapolis, in Kenosha, where we've been invited. This is yet another attempt to make sure no more children like LeGend Taliferro die on our streets.
Q: These are congressionally appropriated funds. I expect that you would expect there to be immediate legal action taken. Letitia James, the attorney general for the State of New York, warned a few minutes ago that if you tried to withhold any funds, she will immediately slap you with a lawsuit.
MS. MCENANY: Well, she's free to do that. We believe that what we will do will be lawful, within the bounds of the law, and we encourage states to act and cities to act the way that Kenosha and Minneapolis did, although be it delayed a little bit there. They finally stepped up and asked for federal support, and they got it, because too many Americans are dying on our streets, too many businesses being burned to the ground. That's not the American way by a longshot.
Q: Kayleigh, just to follow up on that: The President, as we know, tried to withhold federal money from sanctuary cities, and he lost, as per the course. So why isn't this also doomed to fail?
MS. MCENANY: I'm not going to get ahead of exactly what the final product will look like. Again, I just walked you through. There's a 14-day timeline for the DOJ and then a 30-day timeline for the Office of Management and Budget. But we believe that we are in the right here.
Q: Let me do a couple follows, if I can. So, in May, the President said the U.S. will be designating Antifa as a terrorist organization. Yes or no? Did the President do that?
MS. MCENANY: What the DOJ said is that they would be looking at Antifa-related charges in the lens of domestic terrorism.
Q: So, to be clear, they did not designate Antifa, though?
MS. MCENANY: To be clear, they will be pursuing domestic terrorism charges against Antifa individuals, anarchists who are wreaking havoc across our country and who the suspect, at least in Portland, killed an innocent man out in Portland, just over the weekend.
Q: Right. For sure. And then in 20 — but they didn't declare them a terrorist organization as they said — as he said they would.
MS. MCENANY: They will be pursuing domestic terror charges. You're noting a distinction without a difference.
Q: In 2017, he threatened to withhold federal funds from UC-Berkeley if they did not allow free speech. Has he done that?
MS. MCENANY: I'll have to — I'll follow up with you on that.
Q: So I guess the question is: The President makes a lot of threats, knowing that he's not going to follow through or that they're not legal. So is this what he's trying to do here yet again?
MS. MCENANY: No. The President will follow through. His memo is exceedingly clear. We are pursuing every avenue within the federal government to take care of the American people. When you have a one-year-old being killed in New York, when you have a little, beautiful girl in Atlanta named Secoriea Turner who lost her life, yes, this federal government will do everything within our lawful power. And, yes, the President is serious about this.
Q: Can I follow up with one last one, if I can? On Walter Reed: The President, in November, said he went to Walter Reed to begin his physical. He said he was there — this week, he said he was there to complete his physical. In fact, your predecessor said the same back then, that it was to begin it. So which one was it when the President went to Walter Reed?
MS. MCENANY: The President did his physical in two parts. These are very extensive when you're doing a presidential physical. And he used the two visits to Walter Reed to complete the physical in two stops. Again, the media is engaging in conspiracy theories about the President's health.
Q: The President noted — just to be clear, Kayleigh, you said he did it in two stops —
Q: Kayleigh —
MS. MCENANY: Yes.
Q: — but he said he completed it. This week —
MS. MCENANY: Yes.
Q: — he said he was there to complete it. You're saying that's not true. So his statement, this was wrong, correct?
MS. MCENANY: Yes, next question. I'm not engaging in conspiracy theories anymore.
Q: It's not a conspiracy theory. I'm just asking if he was correct or mistaken.
MS. MCENANY: Go ahead.
Q: I don't want to lose my turn. I'm sorry.
Q: Please. No, go ahead.
Q: Senator Schumer came out with a statement today, saying that too much of the evidence points to the Trump administration pressuring the FDA to approve a vaccine by Election Day to boost his reelection prospects.
Can you assure the American people that if a vaccine does come out before Election Day, is approved before Election Day, that it is safe and effective? And can you address his assertions that you are pressuring the FDA to come up with a vaccine before Election Day?
MS. MCENANY: No one is pressuring the FDA to do anything. This is, again, a bizarre theory spun up by CNN, among others.
Let me note that the FDA — you had Dr. Hahn who said this: "I can assure you 100 percent that the President has never pressured me to make a decision regarding any regulatory aspect of the FDA's work." He said that just a few months ago; it is absolutely the case. You had Secretary Azar saying this morning, about the vaccine: "Whether it's October 15th or November 1st or November 15th, this is all about saving lives."
You've had Dr. Fauci say — "We, in fact, briefed the President today" — this was a few weeks ago — "about this in the Oval Office." I was there for that briefing. And Dr. Fauci said, "There is no political pressure that I have seen at all to move quickly."
This President wants to break through regulatory barriers to get a vaccine as safely — to the American people as quickly as possible because lives are at stake. But he will not in any way sacrifice safety in making sure that this is 100 percent airtight before the American people receive it.
So the priority here is saving lives, safety, and there will be a safe and effective vaccine in the works. And again, I think that CNN spinning up this conspiracy theory, it all was based upon the CDC career —
Q: Senator Schumer brought this up.
MS. MCENANY: Yes. And CNN was peddling a theory on this as well. Basically, you had career officials at the CDC who made a decision, who spoke with states about distributing vaccines. We're preparing, in advance, to have a safe and effective vaccine distributed, because unlike the Obama administration, during swine flu, they had real problems in that regard.
The Obama administration promised 100 million doses by October. They then reduced that number to 40 million for the swine flu. By mid-October, when demand for a vaccine was at its highest, supply fell dramatically short with as few as 11 million doses on hand.
You even had their CDC Director saying, "We are nowhere near where we thought we'd be by now. We are not near where vaccine manufacturers predicted we would be." We share the frustration of the people who have waited online or called a number or checked a website and haven't been able to find a place to get vaccinated.
Unlike the Obama-Biden administration, we make plans in advance. It's why we have contracts for 100 millions of vaccine production in advance, and it's why CDC career officials have worked with all 50 states to make sure that we can distribute this vaccine. We do our homework in advance, unlike Obama-Biden.
Q: Just another one, Kayleigh.
MS. MCENANY: Yes.
Q: Just another one. So, Vice President Joe — former Vice President Joe Biden said on Alexei Navalny's poisoning that, "The mode of attack leaves no doubt as to where the responsibility lies: the Russian state."
Does the President agree with that assessment? And has he made his voice known to the Russian government on this issue?
MS. MCENANY: So we're deeply troubled by the results released yesterday. Alexei Navalny's poisoning is completely reprehensible. Russia has used chemical nerve agents in the past, and we're working with our allies and the international community to hold those in Russia accountable wherever the evidence leads and restrict funds for their malign activities.
The Russian people have a right to express their views peacefully without fear of retribution of any kind, and certainly not with chemical agents. And no one has been tougher on the Russian government than this President.
MS. MCENANY: Thanks, Kayleigh. On TikTok, the President said that that ban is going to take effect on September 15th if the deal is not agreed to. What will that look like? Is Google and Apple going to have to delete that app from their app stores? Are people going to have to delete it off their phones? Tell us what will happen on September 15th if there's no deal.
MS. MCENANY: I'm not going to get ahead of announcing those plans on September 15th. I know you had some questions on the timing of everything, and I told the Commerce Department to be expecting your call because they can walk you through. You had questions about the 45-day timeframe, so I did get some clarity for you on that. If you follow up with me, we can get you in touch with the Commerce Department.
Q: Yeah, Kayleigh. I just wanted to ask you about the investigation. There's a couple of contracts that were awarded that Peter Navarro was involved with. One, there's some investigation going on in terms of Kodak — the money that went to Kodak to allow them to develop pharmaceuticals. There are other contracts now for ventilators that have received scrutiny.
Can you give us an update on how concerned you are that maybe some of these business deals are going through too quickly, they're not getting enough scrutiny? Is there any particular finding that you can offer at this point on that?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, we've made many contracts using the DPA: 78 times; 30 times with regard to testing. We're very proud of what we've done. Of course, if there are new allegations with a given company, we certainly look at those and look at them closely, as we did with the Kodak situation.
But we're very proud of what we've done. We were met with an unprecedented challenge: a novel coronavirus that came to our shores from China. And we are very proud that our contracts have enabled us to have a very large and growing stockpile.
In fact, we've rapidly increased the amount of N95s on hand to more than 60 million — we're on track to have 10 times more than pre-pandemic levels by the fall; significantly surged the number of gowns on hand more than 27 million; and we have tremendous level of ventilators on hand at 109,000, and we will have tens of thousands more by the fall.
So the contracts we've made have enabled — enabled these numbers, among others. I'm not even getting into therapeutics like remdesivir. But, of course, if there's ever an allegation, we take it seriously and look at it as we did with Kodak.
Q: Can you confirm how many allegations of wrongdoing that you're looking at that involved Peter Navarro?
MS. MCENANY: I'm only aware of the one or two that you named out of the many, many contracts that we've had.
Q: Thanks, Kayleigh. The herd immunity strategy for the pandemic has been called dangerous by some experts. And I'm wondering if President Trump has formed an opinion on this concept and if he thinks that that is an achievable goal.
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, the herd immunity, so-called theory, was something made up in the fanciful minds of the media. That was never something that was ever considered here at the White House. Here at the White House, what we've done is race to get a safe and effective vaccine in record time. If we get it by the end of the year, it will far outpace Ebola, which took 14 months to get to phase three clinical trials, three years to get to completion. This will be the fastest vaccine ever for a novel pathogen.
Here at the White House, we talk about therapeutics and are very proud that we've identified — we have more than 270 clinical trials, 570 in the planning stages, and successful therapeutics that we know of, like dexamethasone and remdesivir.
That's what we do here at the White House. The herd immunity theory, again, was something made up in the mind of the media.
Q: And also, on the Supreme Court, the President said that he would come out with a list of candidates by September 1st. When can we expect to see that list?
MS. MCENANY: You will see it soon, certainly within the next few weeks, but it will be after the Labor Day weekend.
Q: Thank you. Back on the cities: How would the President's plan to reduce funding to cities actually help protect citizens that you said was the goal of the President?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, that is the goal. And what the intent is, is to incentivize cities to follow in the way of Kenosha and Minneapolis who, when they were in the midst of a situation that they couldn't handle just at the local level, they requested federal assistance, and it worked. Within 24 hours, you saw a much different scene in Kenosha; within 24 hours, a much different scene in Minneapolis.
So we want states to work with us, and those two models are examples of Democrats who have done so. On the contrary, you see a much different situation in New York and Portland and D.C. and Seattle.
And some of the factors, as noted in the memo that will go into the lawlessness assertion, are whether they forbid police from intervening, whether they've withdrawn law enforcement protection from certain areas, like we saw where a police precinct was abandoned in the lawless CHOP zone in Seattle. Those are the types of changes in behavior we want to see from cities because protecting the citizenry should be their paramount concern.
Q: Thanks, Kayleigh. The government runs out of funding by the end of the month. Is the White House confident it can avoid another shutdown? And is the President open to including some of this COVID stimulus as part of a CR?
MS. MCENANY: I haven't talked to him about that, but we do believe that we'll be able to get funding to avoid a shutdown.
Q: And are negotiations underway now? Like, have you guys started talking to Congress about this yet?
MS. MCENANY: I'd have to talk with the Chief. I haven't talked to him specifically about that. But we — it has been discussed internally, I know at least that.
Q: Thanks, Kayleigh. Can you give us a sense — on the memo issued last night, can you give us more of a sense of the funding that would be under review? And also, why does the White House believe that this is the right time to be considering restricting funding for states who are in the middle of a pandemic and some are dealing with violence?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, again — so first — to the first part of your question, it's undergoing a review. Part of that step one of this memo is for federal agencies to detail the funds being provided. So I can't give you a readout of exactly which funds are being looked at until that review is conducted.
But why now? Why now? Because in New York City, you've seen 177 percent increase in shootings in July. Meanwhile, you have the feckless government of Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo pulling $1 billion, with a "B," from NYPD. At the same time, we learned that in a 28-day period, arrests were down in New York City by 62 percent. The looting of 450 businesses that have been damaged. In Seattle, a lawless CHOP zone where two died.
Now is the right time when you see numbers like this because lives are at stake and, oftentimes, the lives of innocent little babies who should be here today if Democrat mayors got their act together, didn't cut funding from police, did start arresting people, and enforced the laws.
Q: Thanks, Kayleigh. The President and Joe Biden are both going to be in Shanksville, PA, next Friday to commemorate 9/11. Have you spoken to him about appearing with the former Vice President, like he did with Secretary Clinton back in 2016 up in New York?
MS. MCENANY: I have no details for that upcoming event, but we are intending to be in Shanksville as well.
Q: Okay, and then just one more follow-up on the cities. Again, I know it's — it's under review. Has the President directed Director Vought to make sure that future coronavirus aid is exempt from this memorandum?
MS. MCENANY: I don't see in what universe that would be connected to the issue at hand, which is ensuring lawfulness in the cities —
Q: (Inaudible) first through FEMA or HHS or anything like that.
MS. MCENANY: But again, I don't want to get into the specific funding ahead of the review process that is ongoing.
Yes. Are we all set? Okay. There we go. Yep.
Q: Thank you. Facebook said earlier today that it would be removing the posts where the President was talking yesterday with a local reporter about voting twice if it's not corrected and if it doesn't indicate that the President was wrong in those assertions. What do you have to say about Facebook's move on this post?
MS. MCENANY: You said Facebook designated a post? I missed the very first part.
Q: Right. They said that they would remove the post from those profiles who posted and do not say that the — what the assertions of the President are wrong.
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, I haven't seen the particular post you're referring to, but the President is crystal clear here that he only — again, to read that part of his quote: "If your vote isn't tabulated, then you'll be able to vote in person."
This is about verifying that every vote is counted, because we know voters are disenfranchised. Just in the 2020 presidential primary, for instance, there were 100,000 ballots rejected in California — mail-in ballots. In New York, one in five — think about that — one in five mail-in ballots were rejected, a total of 84,000 ballots rejected in New York City alone.
And we know the thin margins by which elections are decided, and we also know that, as research has shown, young, black, and Hispanic voters are more likely to have their mail-in ballots rejected. That's according to a Washington Post article.
So the President wants enfranchisement, not disenfranchisement. That's his goal with the comments that he made yesterday.
Q: If I may —
Q: If I may ask another one on immigration, please.
MS. MCENANY: Okay.
Q: The President has said that he will be issuing another order in September. Do you have any more information on that — when he may be issuing that immigration order?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, no updates on a forthcoming immigration EO.
Q: Thank you, Kayleigh. You mentioned role model cities like Kenosha. If, say, Mayor de Blasio and Mayor Bowser, for instance, if they were to, this week, take specific actions and get some of the law and order back under control, would this memo continue to go forward or would you continue to propagate the plans listed in this memo from yesterday?
MS. MCENANY: We'd have to see a radical change in behavior from the mayor of D.C. who allowed a church to burn; from the mayor of Portland who stood with the protesters only to be chased out of his own home — the windows shattered of his building by the very protesters he deemed peaceful, who are actually anarchists who took the life of a 39-year-old man this past weekend.
But, look, when the local government doesn't act, we use every avenue available to us at the federal level. And that pertains to this memo as one example. Another example is Operation LeGend, which we're very proud of and have some new numbers for you on that.
Since the operation's launch, more than 2,000 arrests, including 147 homicides, have been made. More than 544 firearms have been seized, and more than — those are illegal weapons. And more than 7 kilos of fentanyl, 14 kilos of heroin, 12 kilos of cocaine, and 50 kilos of methamphetamine have been seized. And of the individuals arrested, 476 have been charged with federal offenses.
And there's a detailed readout from DOJ of each offense and the great work that our federal law enforcement officials have done.
So thank you to our police. Thank you to our federal law enforcement. You keep us safe when Democrat mayors and derelict governors do not.
Kayleigh McEnany, 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/343578