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Press Briefing by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany

September 24, 2020

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:23 P.M. EDT

MS. MCENANY: Good afternoon, everyone. The radicals are in control of the Democrat Party. Make no mistake, Democrat radicals want to shatter norms and disregard precedent for the sake of the very norms and precedent they claim must be safeguarded.

They've proposed court packing — an egregious idea. They've entertained impeachment as punishment for the President exercising his lawful Article Two, Section Two authority to appoint — nominate, rather, a justice to the Supreme Court. They've advocated for the abolition of the Electoral College. These are all the tactics that they're using to sow chaos and discord. Likewise, they're endorsing a mass mail-out ballot system that will likely lead to the kind of weeklong delay New York witnessed in its recent primary.

Far-left radicals resort to tactics like this to push their extreme agenda because they cannot win on the merits; they cannot succeed based on the will of the American people. This administration will continue to call out these tactics, while Democrats should end their petty politics and get to work.

And with that, I'll take questions. Jon.

Q Yeah, Kayleigh, I'm wondering if you can just clean up or clarify something the President said yesterday. If he loses this election, can you assure us that there will be a peaceful transfer of power?

MS. MCENANY: You are referring to the question asked by the Playboy reporter, right?

Q I'm referring to — with the President being asked if there would be a peaceful transfer of power, and he did not say yes.

MS. MCENANY: Yeah, I believe —

Q So I'm asking you: Will there be a peaceful transfer of power if he loses this election?

MS. MCENANY: I believe that question asked by the Playboy (inaudible) — in fact, I think I have it right here. He was asked —

Q I'm asking this question.

MS. MCENANY: He was asked — "win, lose, or draw" — whether he would accept the transfer of power. I'm not entirely sure, if he won, why he would accept a transfer of power. That is maybe the deranged wish of that reporter, but that's not how governing works.

Q But I'm asking a very direct and very simple question. If the President loses this election, will this White House, will this President assure us that there will be a peaceful transfer of power? It's a very simple question. We've been doing it since 1800.

MS. MCENANY: The President will accept the results of a free and fair election.

But I think that your question is more fitting to be asked of Democrats who have already been on the record saying they won't accept the results of an election.

In fact, I have several of them here for you. South Carolina Democrat Jim Clyburn has said that Trump "is not going to win fairly." Senator Barbara Boxer has said that the only way Trump will win is to "steal it." That's according to Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer.

The Washington Post has noted — they have a headline: "Democrats may not trust the results of the election if Trump wins."

And then you have that beautiful quote from Hillary Clinton that "Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstance."

So I think your fitting is more ques- — more a fitting — a fitting question for Democrats.


Q Kayleigh, just to understand this clearly: Are the results legitimate only if the President wins?

MS. MCENANY: The President will accept the results of a free and fair election. He will accept the will of the American people.

Q So, for clarity, if he loses and it's free and fair, he will accept that?

MS. MCENANY: I've answered your question. He will accept the results of a free and fair election.

Q Let me ask about Breonna Taylor, if I can, right now. First of all, I have just a little housekeeping: Has the President spoken to the family of Breonna Taylor?

MS. MCENANY: I'm not aware of any conversation that they've had, but our hearts do go out to her family.

Q Has the President spoken to the officers who were shot last night in Louisville?

MS. MCENANY: I'm not aware of any conversations.

Q So the President spoke to the officers who were shot in Los Angeles. But to this point, there's no indication the President, at any point over the last several months, has spoken to the family of Breonna Taylor. I guess, why not?

MS. MCENANY: The President routinely speaks to victims of horrendous tragedies. I've been here when he's met with the parents who lost their children to instances of police brutality. It was a really beautiful meeting, and the President consoled them.

He's talked to the widows who have lost their husbands to police officers. He's spoken to widows of fallen soldiers. He routinely reaches out to victims of all kinds of atrocities, and he'll continue to do that.


Q What is the President's message to the family of Breonna? I heard what — you say: "We grieve for them." But what is the President's message to the family of Breonna Taylor that does not believe they received justice?

MS. MCENANY: That our hearts go out to her. It was a horrible tragedy that happened, and that our hearts also are with the two police officers who were shot last night in the Louisville riots.

Q When you say "our," you mean — you mean the White House, including the President?
MS. MCENANY: Yes. I speak on behalf of the President. Yes.

Q Okay. Because that would be his thoughts go out to the —

MS. MCENANY: I am the President's spokesperson. I speak on his behalf, Peter.

Q Well, he — in fact, one of the aides just said that the President was his own spokesperson, which is why I asked. But go ahead.


Q So, Kayleigh, yesterday, when the President said "Get rid of the ballots…there won't be a transfer, frankly; there'll be a continuation," which particular ballots is he talking about wanting to get rid of? And why does he think that would help him get elected?

MS. MCENANY: The President wants to get rid of mass mail-out voting. And that's not because — he said clearly that that could go either way: It could damage either candidate's chances because it's a system that's subject to fraud.

In fact, in the last 24 hours, police in Greenville, Wisconsin, found mail in a ditch, and it included absentee ballots.

And also, I can confirm for you that Trump ballots — ballots for the President were found in Pennsylvania. And I believe you should be getting more information on that shortly. Here, in the last 24 hours, they were found cast aside.

Q So why, in the past hour, did the President tweet out, "Vote-by-mail ballots in my home state of FLORIDA begin going out TODAY! Make sure to request yours, fill it out & send it in"?

MS. MCENANY: The President has always made the distinction that absentee ballots — where you go through a process, where you request a ballot and you mail that in — that is a system that works.

But a system where you mass mail-out to voter rolls, which are not kept and maintained — where, in Los Angeles County, for instance, you have 120 percent of the county enrolled — that system is untenable. It doesn't work. It leads to what we saw in Nevada, where there were ballots languishing in trash cans and pinned to apartment boards.

Q Okay. And just finally: Today, FBI Director Wray testified on the Hill that he has not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it's by mail or otherwise. So if the President's own FBI director says this isn't a problem, why does the President keep saying it is?

MS. MCENANY: Well, as Attorney General Barr has said, we've never had an election where we've done mass mail-out voting like this before.

I would point you to a bipartisan study done by none other than Jimmy Carter, who said that these mail-in votes remain the largest source of potential fraud. And he even cited an example of a 1997 Miami mayor election that resulted in 36 arrests for absentee ballot fraud. That election had to be rerun, and the results were reversed.

That is an example from 1997, but there are many others, like Paterson, New Jersey, where four men were charged with voting fraud recently. Four more men were charged in California. And there's a ton of examples. I could get you an encyclopedia of fraudulent examples we've had.

Q So these ballots — these ballots are going out. If the President does win, will he still think it was rigged and fraudulent?

MS. MCENANY: I've already answered this question.


Q Kayleigh, the President's niece filed a lawsuit in New York State court today, alleging that the President and two of his siblings cheated her out of millions and squeezed her out of the family business, and we were hoping to get a reaction from the White House.

MS. MCENANY: Yeah, the only fraud committed there was Mary Trump recording one of her relatives, and she has really discredited herself.


Q Kayleigh, on TikTok, we know that the CFIUS negotiations are continuing. Can you say: Has the President been briefed in the last couple days about how the CFIUS negotiations are going? Do you know when those negotiations will end?

MS. MCENANY: Yeah, not that — I'm not aware of the brief — his briefing schedule with regard to TikTok. But what I can say is what the President has said, which is that any deal has to be 100 percent, as far as national security is concerned. And I'd refer you to his comments, as well as those from the Department of Treasury. For any further specifics, I'd refer you there.

Yes. Jeff.

Q Thank you, Kayleigh. The President suggested yesterday that he might overrule stricter standards at the FDA on a coronavirus vaccine. Why would the President not want strict standards for a vaccine on the coronavirus?

MS. MCENANY: Well, the FDA does have strict standards. They are the gold standard with regard to vaccines.

The President was referring to the normal interagency process that happens with guidance, and that includes running through the Office of Management and Budget. So that's standard operating procedure.

And I would also point out — I spoke to Dr. Hahn this morning, and Dr. Hahn said that the guidance issued was a follow-up to June 30th guidance that they put out, and it was guidance — it was guidance that they gave to pharmaceutical companies to provide them with more regulatory clarity.


Q Thanks, Kayleigh. The White House is describing this healthcare event today as a chance for the President to outline his vision. Is that something less than his plan?

And just a second part of that: Does the White House think that it can address the country's challenges with healthcare solely through executive action?

MS. MCENANY: So, the President will be laying out his healthcare vision today. I don't want to get ahead of exactly what that will look like. There will be some tangible actions taken, as well as the President really laying out, which I — something that I think has been overlooked: the real contrast between what Obamacare gave us between 2013 and 2017, and what the President has delivered.

And I think we have a graphic to that effect. I'm not — I'm not sure if they were able to put it together in time.

But with Obamacare, it is a fact that from 2013 to 2017, premiums in this country went up. In fact, they went up by 105 percent on the individual market. And you contrast that with President Trump — what he's managed to do by rolling back a lot of Obamacare, and we've seen premiums on the individual market go down. Same for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage — the polar opposite of what happened with Obamacare, where those premiums went up.

So premiums have come down under this President. Drug prices have come down. Under President Obama, drug prices were up 15 percent. Under President Trump, they came down for the first time in 50 years.

And then, finally, under Obamacare, you had choice that went down. One third of counties had only one insurer in the individual market. And with President Trump, there are new, affordable options, like AHPs, STLDIs, and HRAs — healthcare reimbursement arrangements; as well as employer-sponsored insurance that has gone up. We've seen an increase of 1.5 million in 2019.

So these principles have undergirded the Trump presidency, and he will use many of the same principles going forward. And you'll get his comprehensive healthcare vision that will include some action items here in short order.

Q Is this the extent of the plan or is there more after this?

MS. MCENANY: This is going to be his full vision that he has been talking about over the last few weeks, and it will be in Charlotte, North Carolina, today.


Q Thank you so much, Kayleigh. I wanted to ask about the Supreme Court consideration. Has the President met with all the top candidates that are under consideration? Are there any others? Who else is he — are there any others that he's still plans to meet with? Judge Lagoa, for example — does he still plan to meet with Judge Lagoa?

MS. MCENANY: So I'm not going to get into the President's private meetings with these candidates. He's noted that there are five he's considering. They all fall in the same mold as textualist, originalist, Constitution-abiding judges.

Q And on another note: Today, at the Supreme Court, when the President approached — you know, was paying his respects to Justice Ginsburg — there were some people in the crowd that started the chant to "respect her wishes," to "uphold her wishes." Do you have some thoughts on those chants, which also, you know, included "Vote him out"?

MS. MCENANY: Yeah, I think the chants were appalling, but certainly to be expected when you're in the heart of the swamp. I travel with the President all across the country — Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, and Nevada — and everywhere we go, the streets are lined with support like I don't think any other President has had previously.

But with regard to precedent, as I've noted before, 29 times has an appointment been made in an election year — 29 times. And that was all 29 times when there was a vacancy at hand. So the precedent is very much on our side here.

And I would also note the hypocrisy of Democrats. Joe Biden saying, "I would go forward with a confirmation process as chairman, even a few months before an election." Barack Obama saying, "Fill the Supreme Court vacancy," when it was his tenure. And you had Kamala Harris saying, as well, that "Senate GOP is holding SCOTUS hostage for political gain. Join me & call on them to consider [President Obama's] nominee."

So they've really flipped here, because the precedent is on our side and their hypocrisy is on full display.


Q The former number two of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Paul Selva, who served under President Trump — he and 500 other national security and military leaders, they endorsed Joe Biden today. Do you guys have a comment on that, given that it doesn't seem like Jim Mattis and Joe Dunford, who also served under the President, are rushing to support him in this election?

MS. MCENANY: Yeah, I think the President's record speaks for itself. Our military men and women, our veterans love this President for a very distinct reason. Under Obama-Biden, sequestration really gutted our military. You had the Navy at its smallest point ever, and the other military branches were absolutely gutted. Then you had President Trump who came in and secured a record amount of funding for our military and our Department of Defense and built up our military.

When it comes to veterans, the appalling way that our veterans were treated at the VA under Obama-Biden — there was an IG report that as many as 300,000 veterans — think about that — 300,000 veterans could have died waiting for care.

This President came in, put in the VA MISSION Act, secured real choice and options for our veterans, and that's the reason that the military and our veterans love this President.

Q But why is Selva endorsing Joe Biden?

MS. MCENANY: I can't speak to one person's reasoning. But this President, when you look at what he's done — bringing our troops home and all he's done in aggregate — the rank and file in this military love this President.


Q Thanks, Kayleigh. Two quick follow-ups on what's been discussed earlier. Does the President still have confidence in the FDA Commissioner based on his comments yesterday?

MS. MCENANY: There are no changes. Dr. Hahn is FDA Commissioner. So, yes.

Q And then to follow up, you said that you thought the chants outside the Supreme Court this morning were appalling. Is there any issue with people peaceably demonstrating and chanting at the President?

MS. MCENANY: No, of course. Everyone has a First Amendment in this country, but I thought it was an appalling and disrespectful thing to do as the President honored Justice Ginsburg.


Q What was the emergency call the President left yesterday's briefing to take?

MS. MCENANY: I'm not going to get into a readout of the President's calls, but he regularly takes very important phone calls.

Yes, Debra.

Q What is the likelihood that Sudan will be the next country to recognize Israel? And are there any new developments you're expecting after the Emirates and Bahrain recognized Israel?

MS. MCENANY: So the President has noted that there are several other countries that want to make agreements of this sort. I won't confirm exactly which country will be next.

But rest assured the world has looked at what this President did: historic agreements between the UAE and Israel and Bahrain. And do — you see deals that like you haven't seen in a quarter of a century. It was 26 years between the second and the third deal, and just 29 days between the third and the fourth. This President is the only President to have overseen the normalization of relations between Israel and two Middle East countries. To have two on his watch is a really big deal. And no wonder, two Nobel Peace Prize nominations, as well.

Yes, Lalit.

Q Yeah. Thank you. What's the status of coronavirus vaccination this year? Do you expect this to be available before Christmas?

MS. MCENANY: We do expect to have a vaccine by the end of the year. That has always been the goal, and we are still on track for that. It's very important that — what the President has done with regard to commercial-level manufacturing. As Dr. Slaoui told me, the fact that you have scaled up to manufacture these vaccines in advance is a — something that this President has done because he's a businessman and thinks through exactly how to get a safe and effective vaccine delivered at record speed, and part of that has entailed manufacturing in advance.

And to do this, it normally takes years to scale up to commercial-level production, but this President has done it in just a few short months. And if we have this vaccine by the end of the year, it will be the fastest pace for a vaccine for novel pathogen in history.


Q Thank you, Kayleigh. I wanted to go back to mail-in voting for just a bit. Right now, five states conduct elections entirely by mail-in, prior to the pandemic, with no cases or no major cases of fraud. Does that success not give the President confidence in mail-in voting?

MS. MCENANY: So those states have had time and a history of doing — having a workable system and one that has been done for many years, for many election cycles.

To move the entire country to mass mail-in voting, all at once, and have an entirely new system, and do that in just a few short months is an untenable and an unworkable proposition, and one that has shown to not work well at all, especially when you look at the disenfranchisement, which I think is really troubling when it comes to mass mail-in voting.

In 2016, you had 1 percent of ballots thrown out — absentee ballots — that amounted to 319,000 votes thrown out. And if you have the entirety of the country voting by mail, you can imagine that number would be many folds higher than that.

And you look just in the primary, where you've seen states try to move to this mass mail-in system. There were 100,000 ballots rejected in California. In New York City, one in five mail-in ballots were rejected. And as a former DOJ voting rights official said, "It's nuts. That is just way too high," when one in five voters, because of mass mail-in voting, have their ballots thrown out.


Q You said it's the whole country. Obviously, it's only the states though. Right, Kayleigh?

MS. MCENANY: Chanel.

Q Thank you, Kayleigh. Yesterday, the Senate released an 87-page report on Hunter Biden and Joe Biden's dealings across the board of Ukraine and with Russia. Specifically, it showed Hunter Biden supporting Russian prostitution, human trafficking, receiving $3.5 million from Moscow.

The question to you is: Does the White House have any intention of helping the DOJ should an investigation be opened up on the Bidens?

And number two: Do you have a response to Rudy Giuliani yesterday telling us that this should immediately disqualify Joe Biden from his candidacy?

MS. MCENANY: Yeah, those were — that was a very troubling report. You know, I'll leave it to the DOJ as to how they move forward. But, I mean, I think this New York Post cover says it all. You know I heard so much about Russia collusion, but it appears the only collusion going on was between Hunter Biden, as he accepted $3.5 million from the wife of the Moscow mayor. Very troubling, indeed. And in addition to that, Ukraine money, as well. And it's good that the Senate looked into that.

But finally, I would like to note the situation in Louisville, Kentucky, last night. There were reports of vandalism. There were nearly 100 arrests. And the Trump administration urges calm and reminds those who wish to have their voices heard to do so peacefully. You have a right to peaceful protest, as outlined in the First Amendment. And the Attorney General, Daniel Cameron, said, "If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice. Mob justice is not justice. Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge."

And you contrast his message with that of CNN's Brianna Keilar, who said, "I question the judgment of the Kentucky Attorney General saying that 'mob justice is not justice.'" We know that this is a very loaded language. That's an appalling statement from Brianna Keilar at CNN. And what is outrageous about this take is that mob justice is not justice.

Hours later after this comment was made on CNN, two police officers were shot. This is not justice. This has nothing to do with politics; it has everything to do with the value of human life and the safety and security of our American cities.

And across the country, we've seen our police officers come under fire in the line of duty. In Los Angeles, there was an ambush attempt on two police officers. In Phoenix, a U.S. Marshal was ambushed and shot outside a federal courthouse. In Lynwood, California, a suspect approached a patrol car and fired a handgun into the passenger-side window. And in Suffolk, Virginia, a suspect opened fired on a marked police car, hitting the vehicle three times.

Our police officers deserve our respect, and the violence that is being committed towards them — and this was just in the last week and a half — is outrageous. And the words of CNN and of Brianna Keilar are outrageous, irresponsible, and we should never hear statements like that followed by, hours later, two police officers being shot.

END 1:44 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

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