Press Briefing by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
11:22 A.M. EDT
MS. MCENANY: Well, good morning, everyone. Three years ago today, 58 people lost their lives and hundreds more were wounded in the horrific Las Vegas music festival shooting. That was three years ago today. On behalf of the President and his administration, our hearts continue to break for the victims and their families. They are in our prayers today.
Fulfilling his Article 2, Section 2 obligation and following well-established precedent, President Trump nominated an eminently qualified candidate for the Supreme Court: Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Judge Barrett is extremely well qualified: She graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame Law School, where she received the Hoynes Prize for achieving the best record in scholarship, and she also is a Rhodes Scholar.
As Notre Dame Law Professor Carter Snead said, "There's just consensus: Amy Barrett is the best student, the smartest and most talented person to ever come through the University of Notre Dame Law School."
In addition to being a gifted student, Judge Barrett clerked for the D.C. — for D.C. Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman and the "Lion of the Court," Justice Antonin Scalia.
In 2017, Judge Barrett was confirmed in a bipartisan vote to serve on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In support of her 2017 nomination, colleagues described Judge Barrett as, quote, "a model of the fair, impartial, and sympathetic judge."
Judge Barrett is not only a qualified jurist but a woman of character. Judge Barrett is the devoted working mom of seven children, including two adopted children from Haiti and one child born with special needs. Judge Barrett is full of compassion and empathy, and she understands the needs of our nation's most vulnerable.
Judge Barrett would become the first-ever mother of school-aged children to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. If confirmed, Judge Barrett would be the only Republican-appointed woman on the Court and the fifth woman in the Court's history.
Her qualifications are many. Her character is unquestionable. Her devotion to the Constitution and interpreting the law as written is steadfast. Judge Amy Coney Barrett is the right choice to serve on the Supreme Court.
And with that, I will take questions. John.
Q Kayleigh, if I could start off, I'd like to ask you for a definitive and declarative statement, without ambiguity or deflection: As the person who speaks for the President, does the President denounce white supremacism and groups that espouse it in all their forms?
MS. MCENANY: This has been answered, yesterday by the President himself, the day before by the President himself on the debate stage. The President was asked this; he said "sure" three times. Yesterday, he was point-blank asked, "Do you denounce white supremacy?" And he said, "I've always denounced any form of that."
I can go back and read for you — in August 2019, "In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy." In August of 2017, "Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups." I have an entire list of these quotes that I can go through with you.
He has condemned white supremacy more than any President in modern history.
Q But just to clear it up this morning, can you — naming it — make a declarative statement that you denounce — that the President denounces it?
MS. MCENANY: I just did. The President has denounced this repeatedly.
Q You read a bunch of quotes from the past. Can you —
MS. MCENANY: The President was asked this. You're making — you're contriving a storyline and a narrative.
Q No, I'm not. I'm just asking you to put this to rest.
MS. MCENANY: He said — I just did. I read you all of the quotes. And if you —
Q You read me past quotes.
MS. MCENANY: — need to see them in writing —
Q Can you do it currently?
MS. MCENANY: — I will put them in an e-mail.
Q So, Kayleigh, could — can I just — can you, right now, denounce white supremacy and the groups that espouse it?
MS. MCENANY: I just did. The President has denounced —
Q You read a bunch of quotes from the past.
MS. MCENANY: — white supremacy, the KKK, and hate groups in all forms. He signed a resolution to that effect. The President just last week — perhaps you all weren't covering it — but just last week expressed his desire to see the KKK prosecuted as domestic terrorists. This President had advocated for the death penalty for a white supremacist, the first federal execution in 17 years.
His record on this is unmistakable, and it's shameful that the media refuses to cover it.
Q Kayleigh, thank you. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security say that racially motivated violent extremism is one of the deadliest threats that we face in the U.S. Does this White House agree with that assessment? And what is it doing to combat this threat?
MS. MCENANY: The President has done quite a bit to combat this threat. First of all, last week, he also — in addition to saying he wants to prosecute the KKK as domestic terrorists, he said that lynching should be a national hate crime. Again, I think there's no stronger signal that you can send than advocating for the execution of a white supremacist — the first time there's been a federal execution in 17 years. He's been unmistakable.
Q Saying you want to do it is different than actually doing it.
MS. MCENANY: He's continually condemned it, and it is really —
Q His record on this, to go to John's question, is mixed.
MS. MCENANY: It is really — it's —
Q He has condemned it. He has equivocated. At times —
MS. MCENANY: It is not mixed in the slightest.
Q — he said he didn't want to acknowledge it or address it. His record is very mixed on this issue.
MS. MCENANY: His record is not mixed in the slightest. And —
Q His record is very mixed.
MS. MCENANY: — when you go back in history, you can see that —
Q I have his history right here.
MS. MCENANY: When you go back in history, you can see that —
Q I have his quotes.
MS. MCENANY: — Jesse Jackson has praised the President —
Q It's mixed, Kayleigh. It's mixed.
MS. MCENANY: — as someone who served underserved communities. This President, with Mar-a-Lago, it was the first Palm Beach Club open to African Americans and Jews.
Q That's a part of his record, but his record is mixed.
MS. MCENANY: And, in fact, he was —
Q He has not been consistent on the issue of white supremacy.
MS. MCENANY: — he was praised. He has been entirely consistent.
Q So I'm asking you what has this White House done —
MS. MCENANY: And it is quite shameful —
Q — to combat what the FBI says —
MS. MCENANY: It is quite shameful —
Q — is one of the deadliest —
MS. MCENANY: Let me speak, Paula.
Q — threats in this country?
MS. MCENANY: Paula, we're not having a debate on a cable news network.
Q You're — you're — you're saying —
MS. MCENANY: Right now, you need to let me finish.
Q — that he condemns it. I have his record right here; it's mixed.
MS. MCENANY: You need to let me finish.
Q His record is mixed.
MS. MCENANY: It's quite funny that the media goes haywire about interrupting in debates and then chooses to pursue that very same tactic themselves. This is a White House briefing. You ask a question and you give me time to answer.
Q Kayleigh, the President said at the debate that Roe vs. Wade was not on the ballot and that Judge Amy Coney Barrett's view was not known. She signed a newspaper ad in 2006, which called for, quote, "an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe vs. Wade." And the President has explicitly promised to support judges that overturn Roe. Was he downplaying her views on Tuesday night? And what do you say to the American public about whether Roe is on the ballot?
MS. MCENANY: The President has been clear that he would never ask a judge to prejudge a case. Judge Amy Coney Barrett has, on multiple occasions, said it is never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge's personal convictions, whether they derive from faith or anywhere else, on the law. She said that she continues to stand and vehemently believe the core proposition: If there is ever a conflict between a judge's personal conviction and that judge's duty under the rule of law, it is never, ever permissible for that judge to follow their personal convictions in the decision of a case, rather than what the law requires.
Q Kayleigh, does the President expect her to overturn Roe? He has said he would only appoint judges that overturn Roe.
MS. MCENANY: The Pres- — the President would never ask the judge to prejudge a case.
And what I would also say is we fully expect that the Ginsburg rule be followed throughout the course of these proceedings. It was then-Senator Joe Biden who set the Ginsburg rule in saying that there are no questions on how Ginsburg will decide any specific cases that may come before her. And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg indeed applied that rule throughout the course of her hearing on the First Amendment religion clause —
Q Then why did he say that her views are not known? They are very clear.
MS. MCENANY: — and various other issues.
Q Will the President commit to participating in the next debate before the commission changes the rules?
MS. MCENANY: First, with regard to the commission rule changes: The President made clear his view on that yesterday, that he thinks the only way there's a fair debate is changing the moderator and a change in the Democrat nominee. He wants to debate. He plans on being at the debate, but he wants the rules to be fair and wants a fair exchange, and doesn't want rules that cover for a certain candidate's inability to perform well.
Q Thank you, Kayleigh. Can you explain why it's appropriate for the President to be holding rallies this weekend in two areas that this White House has declared to be "red zones" in Wisconsin?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, so the President believes that people have a First Amendment right to political speech. He is having a rally. People can choose whether or not to come.
Q But the governor has begged the White House to please not continue having events like this. Your own Coronavirus Task Force says this is an area that people need to be really careful in, double down on social distancing. So why is it right for the President to be coming in there and holding another rally or two rallies?
MS. MCENANY: Well, we — we employ measures to protect rally-goers.
Q Yeah, but you don't. I mean, we've all covered these rallies.
MS. MCENANY: We encourage mask wearing, hand sanitizing.
Q These people are shoved together. There are thousands of people standing close to each other, not wearing masks.
MS. MCENANY: Did you watch the Democrat nominee's rally yesterday? There was no social distancing there, so I assume you guys expressed the same line of questioning to the Democrats.
But what I would say is this: Is there really seems to be two standards of health in this country, one for Trump supporters and one for everyone else. You had 1,300 health experts literally sign a letter that said, "We do not condemn these gatherings…" — speaking of the protests that we all saw play out — "We do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national public health." So it's vital if you're protesting, but somehow political speech is no longer vital when it comes to a Trump supporter.
Q So, the Proud Boys, or people who consider them to be members of this group, give voice to these misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant views. They're a despicable group by pretty much anyone's standard. So when the President was asked about them, and you say he denounced them — that's what you're insisting that he did on the debate stage the other night — if that's the case, then why are they celebrating what the President said on the debate stage in front of millions of people?
MS. MCENANY: Well, I don't speak for that group, so I'm not sure why you're asking me why they're saying a certain thing.
Q But I'm saying, if someone denounced you, you probably wouldn't put it on a t-shirt and makes badges of it, right?
MS. MCENANY: The President did denounce them. He was asked, "Will you tell them to stand down?" He said, "Sure," and went on to stand —
Q He said to "stand by," which seems like an instruction.
MS. MCENANY: He said, "Stand back." And then just yesterday, when he was asked, he said specifically "stand down," a synonym with "stand back." And the President said "sure" when asked by the moderator whether they should stand down. So again —
Q No, he said —
MS. MCENANY: So, again, another — it's really interesting, too, to see that the media seems to be the only one putting the names of these groups into headlines, into media reporting. He didn't know who the Proud Boys were. The first time I heard of them was in the debate. But the media continues to put these names into circulation and give them a lot of public attention.
Q The President was given about 12 hours — more than that — since from the debate from when he was asked to clarify yesterday. And he didn't come out and clarify yesterday. Instead, he did what you did when John asked you to unambiguously denounce these groups. You just pointed to past things that you've said. You can't — I just don't understand why you knew you were going to get these questions, and you don't have a statement ready to just say, "We do unambiguously denounce these groups —
MS. MCENANY: Kaitlan, you know what is —
Q — and they are not our supporters that we welcome."
MS. MCENANY: Do you know what is — do you know why people have lost trust in the media? There was a reporter from your network yesterday — your network — and in a tweet said, quote, "The President —
Q I'm asking you a question.
MS. MCENANY: I'm answering your question.
Q I don't even know what you're going to bring up, but that has nothing to do with what I'm asking you right now.
MS. MCENANY: I sat here — I sat here when you lobbed your partisan attack question, so you will allow me to give an answer.
The President and someone from your network said yesterday, in a tweet, "The President dodged a question about white supremacy." That was a tweet from a CNN reporter. The President specifically, verbatim, was asked yesterday, "White supremacy, do you denounce them?" To which he responded, "I have always denounced any form of that." Those are the facts. And, CNN, I know that truth is of no moment to your network, but those are the facts. And that's shameful (inaudible) your reporting.
Q They're not the facts. Why are Republicans — Republicans are calling on the President to be more forceful.
MS. MCENANY: Justin.
Q Thanks, Kayleigh.
Q His own party.
MS. MCENANY: Justin.
Q Thanks, Kayleigh. I had a question about unemployment, but I first wanted to clean up something from your opening. You said Judge Barrett was a Rhodes Scholar. I'm not sure that that's true.
MS. MCENANY: Um, that's what I have written here.
Q She attended Rhodes College.
MS. MCENANY: Attended Rhodes College. So, my bad.
Q So, very different thing. All right.
MS. MCENANY: Yes.
Q Anyway, within the last week, around 50,000 workers, Disney, United, American Airlines all lost their jobs. There's negotiations going up on Capitol Hill that there seems to be a division between Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, who has expressed some willingness and an ability to work with Speaker Pelosi, and Chief of Staff Meadows — who is widely reported to be against, sort of, moving forward with this deal — was up on the Hill speaking with Senator Paul yesterday but not involved in the actual talks.
At this point, isn't it time for the President, especially considering the tight calendar before the election, to step in himself and have these conversations? And, you know, this came up at the debate the other night. If not now, when for the President to get involved?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, so, you know, first, I would say Nancy Pelosi is not being serious. If she becomes serious, then we can have a discussion here. But I —
Q She lowered her offer by trillions of dollars.
MS. MCENANY: And we — we raised our offer. But when you lower your offer $2.2 trillion, and you ask for direct payments to illegal immigrants, and you ask for certain deportation forgivenesses in your offer, it's not a serious offer. What we are talking about here is relief for the American people, for American citizens, not direct payments for illegal immigrants.
We raised our offer to $1.6 trillion; among that was $250 billion for state and local. The $250 billion for state and local is the estimated loss because of COVID. And also, there's $150 billion for schools, $50 billion above what Nancy Pelosi asked for. It is a good proposal, but it's one that she is not interested in.
And do you have one more question?
Q Well, I was just going to follow up on — whenever you're —
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, no, go ahead.
Q If immigration is a stumbling block and this deal is not going to — not going to get done because of that — you know, Chief Meadows, in the past, had said that you guys were looking at unilateral executive actions on airline aid, specifically. We're seeing massive layoffs in that sector right now. He had also said that there might be other things available for the millions of other Americans who are facing joblessness right now. But are any of those things going to happen?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, it's a great question, and it's very sad to see what's happening in the airline industry. I met a few of the airline workers on a flight who would lose their job. And their job loss — 19,000 people facing layoffs — is because of Nancy Pelosi.
The White House, right now — you talk about unilateral action — we are willing to look at a plan, a legislation that is just clean legislation to protect those airline workers. Nancy Pelosi, rather than playing election partisan politics, should come to the negotiating table. Let's consolidate around things we agree on. And I think something we can agree on is 19,000 workers should not lose their job in the airlines, so it's incumbent upon Nancy Pelosi to engage with Secretary Mnuchin and the Chief of Staff on making that a reality.
Q Thank you, Kayleigh. As you know, the President has criticized the mail-in voting process quite a bit over the last few weeks. The other day, he said, "They found a lot of ballots in a river." Who is "they"?
MS. MCENANY: So what the President was referring to are something that we've seen just in the last seven days where, in Wisconsin, there were trails of mail ending up in a ditch. So that's, I believe, the specific he was referring to, and that included absentee ballots.
Q Where specifically — in this particular statement though, who is "they" that found those ballots, and where is this river anywhere in this country?
MS. MCENANY: The local authorities. It was a ditch in Wisconsin that they were found in. And I can get the article to your inbox, if you'd like. And beyond that —
Q So he mis — but that's fine. If he misspoke, that's fine. So he meant —
MS. MCENANY: No that's — that's — I believe —
Q He meant a di- — he meant a ditch rather than a river?
MS. MCENANY: That's what the President was referring to. And you're really — you're missing the forest for the trees here. The point is —
Q No, I just wanted to know where — I cover the news, and I like to report accurately in the news. And when the President says, "They found a lot of ballots in a river," I simply want to know where the river is.
MS. MCENANY: No, you simply want to ignore the fact of the matter.
Q I don't.
MS. MCENANY: Again, please —
Q I got asked — I got asked so many questions about this by my Fox affiliates —
MS. MCENANY: — allow me to respond. Allow me to respond.
Q — "Where is this river?"
MS. MCENANY: Allow me to respond to you.
Q And I can't give them accurate information —
MS. MCENANY: Allow me to respond.
Q — and that's why I'm asking you.
MS. MCENANY: This is — this is what is happening here: You are ignoring the problem here, which is, last week, in Pennsylvania, you had ballots found in a ditch. That is a fact. In Wisconsin, seven military ballots, all marked for Trump, were found cast aside. There are problems with mass mail-in voting. I under- — I actually don't understand the lack of journalistic curiosity and reporting on this. There used to be —
Q I want to know where the river is.
MS. MCENANY: There used to be curiosity.
Q Where is the river?
MS. MCENANY: In fact, the Washington Post, before President Trump, highlighted the problems with mail-in voting. They said the result was an "unexpected stress test of mail balloting systems," when this was tried, "many of which were designed to handle only a small portion of the vote and are not ready to scale up in response to the pandemic."
So the media once said —
Q So there is no river?
MS. MCENANY: — mail-in voting is "not ready to scale up" in the middle of a pandemic. Now there's no journalistic curiosity when we're finding Trump ballots —
Q There's no river then?
Q He's asking you about it.
MS. MCENANY: — cast aside. There's no journalistic curiosity when —
Q I'm asking you where the river is, and you can't give an answer.
MS. MCENANY: — 100,000 ballots were sent out in Brooklyn.
Q If you say the President meant a ditch, then say he meant a ditch.
MS. MCENANY: They were inaccurate ballots, and then 100,000 more.
Q I just want to know where the river is.
MS. MCENANY: Shameful filibustering and lack of journalistic curiosity.
Q I'm very curious. Where's the river?
MS. MCENANY: Yes.
Q That's curiosity.
Q Kayleigh, Senator Tim Scott said the President misspoke at the debate on white supremacy. Did he misspeak? And has he spoken to Senator Scott?
MS. MCENANY: When the President announced white supremacy and said "sure," no, he did not misspeak.
Q Has he spoken to Senator Scott?
MS. MCENANY: (Calls on the next reporter.) Yes.
Q Has he spoken to Senator Scott?
MS. MCENANY: (Calls on the next reporter.) Yes.
Q Kayleigh, the $1.6 trillion that the administration has floated to Speaker Pelosi, is that the highest topline that the administration is going to go? And Speaker Pelosi also just said that she is expecting a counteroffer from the administration. Is the White House and Secretary Mnuchin preparing one right now?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, right now, we have the $1.6 trillion number, and I'll let you know if that number goes up.
Q Thanks, Kayleigh. How does the White House interpret the Pope's refusal to meet with Secretary of State Pompeo?
MS. MCENANY: I have not spoken to the President about that, so I'd have to get back to you on that.
Q Kayleigh, I wanted to ask you about the statement from the President Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron about the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. How worried is this White House that this conflict is going to escalate beyond a regional dispute?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, sorry, back up one second. What was the top of your question there? It was about the — what we just signed?
Q Yeah. There is a statement, I understand, that was put out by Vladimir Putin, Emmanuel Macron, and also Donald Trump that calls for peaceful negotiation.
MS. MCENANY: On Armenia, Azerbaijan. Right.
Yeah, so President Trump, along with President Putin, as you noted, and President Macron, representing the co-chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group, released a statement condemning, in the strongest terms, the recent escalation of the violence along the Line of Contact in the conflict zone, and we call for an immediate cessation of hostilities between the relevant military forces. And we also call on the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to commit, without delay, to resuming substantive negotiations in good faith and without preconditions under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs.
Q Is there though — just quickly to follow up.
MS. MCENANY: Yes.
Q Is there concern about, sort of, regional powers — major regional powers, being drawn into this? Is that something that the White House is, sort of, actively trying to combat?
MS. MCENANY: Um, that's all I have to say on that matter at this time.
Q Thank you, Kayleigh. I have two questions for you. One about the list of former Trump administration officials who are coming out against President Trump, and supporting Joe Biden is growing. Is the President concerned about these dissidents and what they're talking about?
MS. MCENANY: No, we're not concerned. The people who have come out are people who don't have personal interactions with the President, and they're peddling things that are falsehoods to advance their careers.
Q And I have a question about the Latin vote. What is President Trump's strategy to convince the Latino voters, beyond the Cubans and Catholics, to vote for him? What is the — what is the importance of the Latino vote for him?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, the President believes that he has a lot of accomplishments for the Latino community, in particular, historic low unemployment, a thriving economy, historic high homeownership for Latino men and women in this country. Those are things that President Trump made possible and will bring back in this economic recovery that we're seeing — this V-shaped recovery.
And I'm also — I'm glad you asked that point specifically because there were some new data that came out that said, "As we're recovering in this super-V-shaped recovery, we've regained nearly — for the Hispanic community, nearly 6 in 10 jobs lost among Hispanic Americans were regained. And it took Obama-Biden an entire year to recover that many jobs.
So the V-shaped recovery is indeed a V-shaped recovery for Hispanic men and women in this — in this country, especially.
Q What about his message against immigration —
Q Thank you, Kayleigh.
Q Do you think this could hurt his —
MS. MCENANY: For what? On — oh, no —
Q The message on immigration.
MS. MCENANY: On immigration, the President believes that the Latino population very much wants a lawful immigration system. And also, we believe his law and order message is resonating and very important as voters want to be secure in their homes and secure in their streets.
Q Thank you, Kayleigh. The President recently unveiled his Platinum Plan, which is geared toward the black community. It promises to create 3 million new jobs, $500 billion in access to capital. It's a lot of money, and nobody really seems to be talking about that. Can you tell us how this assistance will be administered and how the White House will follow up to track the success of the plan?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, this is a very important plan for the black community. It's also — it bears mentioning that, in the pandemic, as we've regained jobs, roughly 4 in 10 jobs lost among black Americans have been gained, and it took Obama-Biden two years to do that. So we're indeed outpacing in job growth for the black community and the Latino community.
And the President has promised this community that he's looking to create 3 million jobs in a next term. He wants to create 500,000 new black-owned businesses, increase access to capital in black communities — almost $500 billion. He's done that with Opportunity Zones, and it's estimated that about a million people will be lifted out of poverty and given opportunity because of this.
Among another of — among another number of items, I should say, in the plan, where he wants to prosecute the KKK as domestic terrorists and make lynching a federal crime. Again, all of that lost upon the media as they misreport, take out of context, ignore the verbatim words of this President when he denounced white supremacy yesterday, when he denounced it at the debate, when he's denounced it more than any other President in modern history.
And, in fact, something else lost upon the media is the absolute turning of a blind eye to Antifa. Carrying the water for Democrats, the media — it apparently agrees with Jerry Nadler that Antifa violence is a myth. In August Senate hearings, Democrats refused to condemn Antifa. Again, no journalistic curiosity here, despite the fact that Andy Ngo, who was a victim of Antifa, said Democrats have mastered — Democrats — he should add "the media," too — have mastered the art of making its violence appear innocuous.
Their violence isn't innocuous. Antifa is not an idea. Andy Ngo can tell you that because he was beaten by a group of protesters — Antifa protesters — suffering brain bleed.
Another man can tell you this, who, in 2019, the victim — his name was Adam Kelly — suffered from a concussion and got 25 staples in his head. But still, silence from Democrats, ignoring this group from Democrats.
And, in fact, as we just saw recently, there was a Trump supporter who was killed by a "100 percent Antifa man" — that is how he described himself. And again, no reporting here, but I guess I did the job of the media by getting this information myself: This man, who was 100 percent Antifa — this man, in fact, had been arrested before. At 2:00 a.m. on July 5th, in a public protest, carrying an illegal weapon, he resisted arrest; he was taken to jail, where he was merely given a citation, put back on the streets; and the very next month, this 100 percent Antifa man was lying in wait before he killed an innocent Trump supporter.
Ideas do no target police officers. Ideas do not burn down buildings. Ideas do not kill innocent Americans. Organizations do. And Democrats should condemn this shameful group in the same manner President Trump continues to condemn white supremacy.
END 11:46 A.M. EDT
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/343926