White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Friday did something her predecessor never did: She held an official press briefing.
“I will never lie to you. You have my word on this,” she said in response to a question from Associated Press correspondent Jill Colvin.
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She also told reporters that they do plan to continue the briefings and she will announce “timing forthcoming.”
She said that she is “normally with the president in the Oval Office” in response to a query of how she will relay how President Donald Trump is thinking on certain issues.
McEnany succeeded Stephanie Grisham as press secretary last month. Grisham never held an official briefing, and the last one was held was in March, 2019. As CNN noted, that was 417 days ago. As they asked questions, a number of reporters thanked McEnany for holding one.
Trump held his own briefings, night after night, with the coronavirus task force through much of March and April. But those were scaled back this week, in the aftermath of the president’s suggestion that injecting disinfectants could be tested as a coronavirus treatment. He later said that he had been sarcastic.
One of the first questions that McEnany was asked was about Trump’s comments about the coronavirus originating in a lab in Wuhan, and whether it is in conflict with a National Intelligence assessment that was less conclusive.
“Let me remind everyone, intelligence is just an estimate, and it’s up to policymakers to decide what to do with that intelligence,” she said.
For about 40 minutes, McEnany swiftly answered questions, and her experience as a cable news commentator, as one of the president’s staunchest defenders, Â was clear. But some of the same concerns among the members of the media remained: Her criticism of the way that China handled the early outbreak of coronavirus ignored the president’s own praise of Beijing.
Not too surprisingly, she was asked about allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault that have been made against Trump. Earlier in the day, Trump told podcast host Dan Bongino that Tara Reade, who is accusing Joe Biden of sexual assault, is “far more convincing” than Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Biden appeared on Morning Joe on Friday and denied Reade’s claims.
“Leave it to the media to really take an issue about the former Vice President and turn it on the president and bring up accusations from four years ago,” she said. But there are other accusers since then, including E. Jean Carroll, who claimed last year that Trump assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman store in the mid-1990s. He has denied the claim.
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