Press Briefing by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:10 P.M. EST
MS. MCENANY: Good afternoon, everyone. The beginning of the end of the pandemic started with the leadership of President Trump. In recent days, Pfizer and Moderna reported the highly successful results of their vaccine development, each achieving a COVID vaccine that is over 90 percent effective. We know Moderna is 94.5 percent effective; Pfizer 95 percent. That is extraordinary.
In July, the Trump administration, as part of Operation Warp Speed, agreed to provide Pfizer with $1.95 billion to manufacture and distribute their COVID vaccine, allowing this vaccine to be provided free for the American people.
While Democrats were pursuing a highly divisive and entirely baseless impeachment endeavor, as far back as January 13th, this President, the Trump administration, and the National Institute of Health was partnering with Moderna and working on this vaccine for the American people.
But that's not all: This administration has remained engaged on the development and distribution of a safe and effective vaccine throughout the year. It began in January and continued thereafter.
On May 15th, Operation Warp Speed was launched. On September 16th, we released two documents outlining a strategy to deliver a safe and effective vaccine. These documents were the strategic — strategic distribution overview in the Interim Playbook for state, tribal, territorial, and local health programs and partners.
On September 23rd, we provided $200 million to jurisdictions to support plans for eventual distribution.
On October 14th, we provided $31 million to Cytiva for vaccine-related consumable products.
On October 16th, we made agreements with CVS and Walgreens to administer vaccines to residents of long-term care facilities.
On October 21st, under the PREP Act, we issued guidance authorizing qualified pharmacy technicians to administer the vaccine.
On October 30th, we announced that McKesson Corporation will produce, store, and distribute vaccine ancillary supply kits on behalf of the Strategic National Stockpile to help healthcare workers who will administer the vaccines.
And on November 12th, we announced the partnership with large chain pharmacies and independent regional ones to deliver safe and effective vaccines.
The unprecedented response to this pandemic has already saved many American lives. And as you can see, this timeline was ongoing. This was a long process and one that we are very proud of.
Now, with multiple safe and effective vaccines just around the corner, we urge all Americans to wash your hands, socially distance, wear a mask when you cannot do so.
And with that, I'll take questions.
Q: Kayleigh, thanks. I want to ask you a question that I'm asked fairly often, away from the White House. And that is: With respect to what Rudy Giuliani and the legal team on the campaign side had to say yesterday, people ask: "Let's suggest that, yes, there is evidence of fraud, irregularities, even malicious intent with respect to vote totals. The question is, what then would be the pathway or strategy to overturn what the campaign believes is a flawed election? Are we talking about a judicial pathway? Are we talking about a legislative pathway?"
And a follow-up: How soon might Americans be able to get their hands on a COVID vaccine?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, so to your first point, I would say this: There's been multiple pieces of litigation filed across the country by various individuals, the campaign, and others. I will leave it to the campaign to make those determinations on as to how to proceed. But the President has been very clear he wants every legal vote to be counted and to make sure no illegal votes are counted.
But with regard to a vaccine, we believe that there will be 40 million doses available by the end of the year. Again, this is extraordinary. This is the fastest vaccine in history by fivefold. It's really extraordinary progress. You've heard Dr. Fauci, among others, say that. And it was only made possible because of this President, who said at the same time, "I'm pursuing a vaccine; I'm going to do something novel. I'm going to manufacture it."
So, many American lives will be saved thanks to President Trump and the great work of Operation Warp Speed.
Q: Can I follow up? One more —
MS. MCENANY: Of course.
Q: Just one thing about the COVID vaccine. Is there a concern inside the White House that a lack of working with a potential or presumptive President-Elect Biden team will somehow slow down the distribution of the COVID vaccine?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, I'm glad you asked that question. It's an important one. And not in the slightest. Because, in fact, I did hear the former Vice President say yesterday he was concerned about not being able to distribute a vaccine. He shouldn't be. Maybe he hasn't seen, but we have publicly available that plan that I mentioned in my opening. It's the COVID-19 Vaccination Program, the Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations. This is publicly available, if the former Vice President would like to read through it.
Beyond that, I would say that we've already, going back months, partnered with the 64 jurisdictions in this country to make sure that they each had individualized distribution plans. Those have been assessed. Those have been made certain that they're — they're good and operational.
So this work has been ongoing. There's a distribution plan in place, which is why you heard General Perna say yesterday that, within 24 hours of getting that EUA, the emergency use authorization, we will be able to distribute this all across the country.
Q: When are you going to admit you lost?
MS. MCENANY: Yes, Kevin. Yeah.
Q: Okay. Thanks, Kayleigh. What is the President planning to discuss this afternoon with the two Michigan lawmakers? And will he ask them to have the state legislature appoint electors who will support his re-election? What's the nature of that meeting?
MS. MCENANY: So he will be meeting later on. This is not an advocacy meeting. There will be no one from the campaign there. He routinely meets with lawmakers from all across the country.
Q: When will you admit you lost the election?
Q: Kayleigh, at what point does the President concede the race and allow for a proper transition to the Biden team?
MS. MCENANY: So, right now, there's ongoing litigation. There are — what we know: 74 million Americans that voted for this President; that's more votes than any President has gotten in history. It's really extraordinary. And there are very real claims out there that the campaign is pursuing — 234 pages of affidavits publicly available in one county alone; that's Wayne County. And two individuals in the canvassing board there that have declined to certify.
So these are real claims. These individuals deserve to be heard. This was a system that had never been tried in American history: mass mail-out voting. It's one that we have identified as being particularly prone to fraud. So those claims deserve to be pursued.
Q: Yeah. Has anyone from the White House spoken with GSA — with the director of GSA about the timing of ascertaining who the next President will be? And has any pressure been applied to her?
MS. MCENANY: Absolutely not. GSA will make the determin- — determination of ascertainment at the right moment. Right now, there's a constitutional process that's being played out. There are questions being asked in court. But the GSA will determine when ascertainment is reached.
Q: And can I just ask one other question, which is: Senator Lamar Alexander, today, has put out a statement encouraging the Trump administration, in the absence of ascertainment, to begin allowing the Biden team access — full access to everything they need for a transition, access to agencies, access to real-time data. What's the harm in doing that?
MS. MCENANY: So there's a Presidential Transition Act that determines exactly what an administration needs to do in advance of an election. And we have done everything statutorily required, and we will continue to do that.
Q: It's after reelection, though.
Q: Thank you. I have a question. First, a follow-up on the transition. Has the President or anyone in the administration instructed officials not to engage or have conversations with members of the Biden transition team?
MS. MCENANY: No, I've certainly never been instructed that. I've never heard of an instruction to that end.
Q: Okay. And my second question is about COVID. Because yesterday, a lot of what we heard from the doctors, they've been saying since the end of March. Back then, the projections were that 100,000 Americans would die. Now, as you know, we've surpassed that by two and a half times. Did the administration fail to communicate how serious this threat was to the American people? How else do you explain what went wrong?
MS. MCENANY: Look, I would say the initial projection that our doctors gave us was 2 million people that would lose their lives. And it's a tragedy any time one life is lost. But we are far below the 2 million that this could have been.
We took very aggressive measures at the beginning of this with the China travel ban; creating the greatest testing system in the entire world; therapeutics — the fact that we have six working therapeutics right now. The fact that we continue to identify more and more. The fact that — I believe we have a chart on this — a fatality chart. It's deaths by hundred for age and month. And as you can see, deaths have come down for every age group, and for those over 70, that line — that red line is a testament to what this President has done.
Therapeutics, monoclonal antibodies — that is a recent one — that reduces hospitalization in high-risk seniors with moderate to mild COVID by 70 percent. That's American ingenuity rising to the occasion, and President Trump oversaw all of this.
But, of course, we are seeing cases rise. And it's very important: wash your hands, socially distance. We're taking this seriously.
Q: Kayleigh, do you think that mixed messaging contributed to that? Because just this week, for example — yesterday, Vice President Pence wanted to make clear that they supported state and local decision making. Just two days ago, you called some of those state guidelines "Orwellian." So how do you expect people to know what to do with all this mixed messaging?
MS. MCENANY: Well, two things can happen at once, and it's this: taking COVID seriously, engaging in aggressive mitigation, but also recognizing that the American people have certain freedoms. And it is, by definition, Orwellian for a state like Oregon to say, "If you have more than six people in your family congregate in your home, we can jail you for 30 days." That's not the American way.
The American people know the CDC recommendations, know the guidelines. We've been talking about this for 10 months, but the American people still have certain freedoms, still have autonomy, and still can make important self-responsibility decisions themselves.
Q: Thank you, Kayleigh. Nice to see you.
MS. MCENANY: Good to see you.
Q: Last night, Tucker Carlson said that campaign attorney Sidney Powell has failed to provide evidence for her assertion about communist money in the 2020 election. And Byron York, another journalist who's been very fair to this White House, said that it was a turning point — Rudy Giuliani and the conduct at that press conference. But Republicans were feeling that the legal maneuvers just aren't working.
So is there — did you all have a reaction to that when you saw that and wrote about it?
MS. MCENANY: Again, that would be a question for the campaign. We at the White House are aggressively working on COVID, winding down the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, among other issues. There will be a drug-pricing announcement later in the afternoon as well.
Q: Well, Kayleigh —
MS. MCENANY: Yes.
Q: — since I'm the pooler, can I ask a question for Jackson Richman of the Jewish News Syndicate, who couldn't be here —
MS. MCENANY: Yes.
Q: — because of social distancing?
And his question is about Jonathan Pollard. His parole conditions are set to expire tomorrow. Is the President willing to commute his parole conditions or pardon him if the DOJ extends Pollard's parole? Have you been getting any calls from the Jewish and pro-Israel community to take action on his case?
MS. MCENANY: I haven't heard about that. I haven't looked into the particular case. But on if he shoots me an email, we'll take a look at his question.
Q: Thank you.
MS. MCENANY: Yes.
Q: So, back to the topic of concession. Like we said earlier, is there something that the President needs to see before making that call? Is it the end of these lawsuits, whenever they do wrap up, all of them? States certifying results for different counties? Or December 14th when the Electoral College casts its ballots?
MS. MCENANY: Look, the President, again, is pursuing ongoing litigation and taking it day by day, and we'll wait for that litigation to play out.
Q: So just to clarify, it's the end of that litigation that we would need to see before getting a call —
MS. MCENANY: There's an entire constitutional process of electors casting their ballots, and I will leave that to the President.
Q: Thank you, Kayleigh. Contrary to the court of media opinion, there is real-time data showing vast irregularities in the voting system that we have watched over the last few weeks. I asked this question of the campaign and I ask this of it now, the White House: Where is our FBI in this entire scheme? Are they looking at any of the evidence that this White House or the campaign have presented in terms of real-time data evidence of voter irregularity? Where is the FBI?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, you know, I would refer you to the FBI on that — to the DOJ on that. There's —
Q: Has the President spoken with the FBI in the last three weeks?
MS. MCENANY: Not that I'm aware of. But, look, I would say that there are real questions on mass mail-out voting. We have put those questions forward, and we've said this for the better part of a year. There was a bipartisan commission that talked about and identified the real potential for fraud with mass mail-in voting.
Also something that I would note is just we talked a lot about transfer of power in the election, and it's worth remembering that this President was never given an orderly transition of power. His presidency was never accepted. In fact, before the election — his election, we know Crossfire Hurricane was launched by Peter Strzok to pursue baseless allegations about the President's ties with Russia. That's before he was President, trying to subvert the will of the American people.
We know, in August, Peter Strzok wrote a text message about an insurance policy against a Trump presidency, once again trying to silence the voice of the American people.
In 2016 — we know in October that there was a FISA warrant — a FISA warrant taken out to spy on the Trump campaign. And then the American people spoke, and they spoke commandingly in electing President Trump despite all of the odds.
And what happened after he was elected? You had 70 lawmakers say "we're not coming" to his inauguration — Democratic lawmakers. You had Elizabeth Warren saying "we're going to attempt to obstruct" the Trump transition by urging the Government Accountability Office to investigate the incoming Trump transition.
In January of that year, you had President Obama have a by- the-book meeting where they talked about the Logan Act, using that act to go after Lieutenant General Michael Flynn.
Just before the inauguration, you had BuzzFeed promoting and publishing this bogus Steele dossier that's been widely debunked.
And then, for two years, you had the baseless Mueller investigation, which searched for collusion, found none, and exonerated President Trump.
While, in 2016, President Trump became the duly elected President, many sought to undermine him, discredit him, delegitimize him, and deny his victory. There were no calls for unity; there were no calls for healing.
So while every legal vote is counted, let us not forget the inexcusable transition, or lack thereof, that President Trump had to endure in 2016 and four years into his presidency.
Thank you, everyone, for the very good and substantive questions today.
Q: Kayleigh, why can't you call on all of us? You haven't taken questions —
MS. MCENANY: I don't call on activists.
END 12:26 P.M. EST
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/347217