Press Briefing by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
September 22, 2020
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:23 P.M. EDT
MS. MCENANY: Hello, everyone. Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have officially shown their blatant disregard for the United States Constitution. Apparently, it is now a high crime and misdemeanor worthy of impeachment for a lawfully elected President of the United States to exercise his constitutional duty.
Article Two, Section Two of the Constitu- — of the Constitution clearly states that the President, quote, "shall nominate," end quote, justices of the Supreme Court when a vacancy occurs. No matter the time, no matter the politics of the day, the President is the President. There is nothing in the Constitution that says the President stops being the President in an election year.
The President has already appointed two strong, conservative justices to the Supreme Court — justices who will interpret the Constitution as written. Now he will nominate a third.
As Senator Ted Cruz reminds us, "We're one vote away from seeing our religious liberty votes [rights] stripped away, from our free speech stripped away, from our Second Amendment [being] stripped away." Just one vote. Contrast the President's solemn constitutional duty with Democrats' "search and destroy" politics.
Nancy Pelosi has vowed to attack the President with, quote, "arrows." Speaker Pelosi will not rule out impeaching this President for doing his job for fulfill- — for fulfilling his constitutional obligation.
AOC said that impeachment is an option, quote, "on the table," while Chuck Schumer stood by, nodding approvingly.
The plan of House Democrats is so rabidly radical that even Democrat Senator Tim Kaine has rebuked the idea, calling the idea of using impeachment to delay a Supreme Court vote, quote, "foolish."
Some Democrats already have a backup plan if they don't get their way on this nomination. Congressman Joe Kennedy said, "If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021. It's that simple."
Senator Ed Markey went further. "No Supreme Court vacancies filled in an election year," he said. "If he violates it, when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court."
Senator, the President is elected to a four-year term. You cannot unilaterally reduce it to three years. The President is the President.
Democrats cannot win their argument on the merits. They cannot win on precedent. So they must search and destroy.
Don Lemon said the quiet — the quiet part out loud last night. He said this: "We're going to have to blow up the entire system" if the President does his job as outlined in the Constitution.
That's the difference between Republicans and Democrats. We fight to protect the system. We fight to protect the Constitution when Democrats say outright, "We are going to blow up the entire system because we do not get our way."
This President will proceed undaunted by Democrat threats. President Trump will fulfill his duty. President Trump will appoint the next Supreme Court justice. President Trump will protect religious liberty. President Trump will protect our freedom of speech. President Trump will protect our Second Amendment.
Under this President, our rights will be upheld, our Constitution safeguarded, and this President will fill that seat.
And with that, I'll take questions.
Q Kayleigh, as you know, the country has hit 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus. What do you say to Americans who are outraged over this and blame this administration for so many lives lost in this country?
MS. MCENANY: Well, as you've heard several doctors in the task force — task force note from this podium, we were looking at the prospect of 2 million people potentially perishing from the coronavirus in this country.
We grieve when even one life is lost. But the fact that we have no —
Q But there could have been a lot less than 200,000.
MS. MCENANY: — the fact that we have come nowhere near that number is a testament to this President taking immediate action — to shutting down travel from China when the other party, Democrats, were saying that was "xenophobic"; for shutting down travel for Europe; for developing landmark therapeutics that are working, like remdesivir.
And when you look at the fact that excess mortality — Europe has experienced a 28 percent higher excess mortality rate than the United States — it's a testament to the hard work done by the task force and this President.
Q And if you don't mind, if I could follow up: Last night, the President said at one of his rallies, about the virus — and I think he was talking about younger Americans — he said it affects "virtually nobody." "By the way, open your schools. Everybody open your schools."
But he said to Bob Woodward: It's not just old — it's not just older people, it's young people, too.
At 200,000 deaths, shouldn't the President be telling people the truth about this virus at his rallies?
MS. MCENANY: The President is telling people the truth. And you're right, Jim, that he was talking about —
Q No, he's not. He's saying that it affects "virtually nobody" and that it doesn't affect young people. He's not telling the truth.
MS. MCENANY: Jim, but you're again taking the President out of context. I have his full quote here. And you're right that he was referring to young people. He said this —
Q Well, then I'm not taking it out of context. If I said he was talking about younger people, then I'm not taking it out of context.
MS. MCENANY: You're — you are taking it out of context because you're making an assertion that he's not giving critical information, when, in fact, he is. And I will underscore exactly what he said. And he said this: "You know, in some states, thousands of people — [and they've had] nobody young. Below the age of 18 — like nobody. They have a strong immune system." And that is factually true. You can go to the American Academy of Pediatrics website, the Children's Hospital Association, and they list out —
Q But, Kayleigh, as you know, younger people can contract —
MS. MCENANY: — a number of states that have had zero pediatric deaths.
Q — younger people can contract the coronavirus and then spread it to older people.
MS. MCENANY: And as —
Q And you've known this since the very beginning. And for the President of the United States — at 200,000 deaths — to go out to his rallies and say something like, "It virtually affects nobody," and that, in some states, it's not affecting young people, that is glossing over the fact and — and really diminishing the fact that young people can catch this virus and spread it to older people.
MS. MCENANY: Do you —
Q Younger people can also be sickened and killed by this virus.
MS. MCENANY: Jim, do you have the quote there with you?
Q I have the — I have the quote here, yes.
MS. MCENANY: Yes, it is exactly as I just read it to you — that in several states, they have had zero pediatric deaths. I've — have the entire list here — Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Iowa, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas — and the list goes on.
And as you may not know, Jim, this — the COVID has a 0.01 percent mortality rate for people under the age of 18. So it does — it is not a disease that affects young people in the same way as older people, which is the exact point —
Q But they can catch it —
MS. MCENANY: — the President was making last night.
Q But they can catch the virus and spread it to older people, Kayleigh.
MS. MCENANY: Yes.
Q One person, Kayleigh, who does believe that the President has the constitutional authority to make a nomination for the Supreme Court and that the Senate has the constitutional obligation to provide advice and consent is Utah Senator Mitt Romney. In the course of the last three and a half years, the President and Romney have often found themselves at odd — odds; have said unkind, if not intemperate, things about each other. How is the President feeling about Mitt Romney today?
MS. MCENANY: I haven't spoken to him about Senator Romney. But Senator Romney is recognizing what any of us who take a clear-eyed look at prec- — at precedent recognize: that the precedent is on our side here. Twenty-nine times has there been an appointment during an election year. Twenty-nine times.
And when you break down those numbers, 19 times when those nominations were made, the Senate and the President were of the same party; 17 of those 19 times, that nominee went on to be confirmed. The 10 times when it was a difference in party between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the presidency, only two went on to be confirmed.
So precedent is on our side. The Democrats are trying to have it both ways here. And I would cite Dan McLaughlin at National Review, who said this — and he's exactly right: "Choosing not to fill a vacancy would be a historically unprecedented act of unilateral disarmament."
Q So, let me just follow up on that, if I could. So, timing now is the next issue. The President will have 37 or 38 days from the time he makes the announcement to the last time that he could have a vote before the election.
In past years, John Paul Stevens was nominated and confirmed in 19 days; Chief Justice John Roberts, 24; Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in 33. Times were different back then than they are now. Can you do it in 37 days?
MS. MCENANY: We certainly believe we can. You've heard very optimistic words from Senator Graham.
Q And how — and how will you do it?
MS. MCENANY: Well, we will go about this the way we always have: by putting forward a Constitution-abiding textualist, originalist that we believe the American people will appreciate and we believe will get through the approval process — the nomination and confirmation process, I should say — quite quickly.
Q Two quick questions. On the 200,000 deaths, will the — will the President recognize that publicly today at his speech or on Twitter? I mean, is this something that he would like to express remorse over or simply to people who have lost —
MS. MCENANY: The President, throughout this pandemic, has done just that. He has said before that it keeps him up at night thinking of even one life lost. This President has taken this incredibly seriously. And what he's done is he's worked harder, each and every day. He works hard, puts his head down, and I think that's very evident in the administration's historic response: the largest mobilization of the private sector since World War Two; the fact that we got working therapeutics delivered to the American people; the fact that a vaccine, frankly — this will be the fastest pace for a vaccine for a novel pathogen in history as we seek to reach that goal by the end of the year.
That's what the President does: He takes this seriously. And the fact that you've seen the fatality rate that has fallen 85 percent since April and the fact that only 1.5 percent of emergency room visits are now people sick with COVID is a real testament to the hard work done by the task force and President Trump.
Q Just one follow-up: Could you speak a bit about why the President prefers to have the confirmation vote before the election? How does he think this is going to help Cory Gardner and Joni Ernst and Republicans keep the majority in the Senate?
MS. MCENANY: Well, the President would like to see a confirmation process that is fair. I think one of the low points for this process was the Kavanaugh hearings and what Democrats did there — making baseless al- — allegations against Justice Kavanaugh, someone respected, prior to President Trump appointing him, by everyone.
And Democrats really dragged his name through the mud. What happened there is a travesty. I mean, the President wants to see a fair confirmation process. He wants to see one that does not look like what — what happened to Kavanaugh. That was a real low point for Democrats.
Q So he thinks Democratic stumbles in the Kavanaugh confirmation process will help Republicans if it's repealed?
MS. MCENANY: He thinks — look, Democrats really showed them- — themselves at the lowest point in that confirmation process.
I think the American people saw Democrats for the partisan games that they play. And I think the American people are looking now and seeing Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer talking about impeachment for executing your power in Article Two, Section Two. It's really inane and outlandish the things they're suggesting. And once again, they seem to be doubling down on their Kavanaugh approach. Didn't work out too well with Justice Kavanaugh; won't work out too well this time, in an election year.
Q Kayleigh, one on COVID and one of the Court. First on COVID, if I can. The President recently gave himself an "A-plus" for his handling of COVID-19 but a "D" for his PR. What would good PR look like when 200,000 American are dead?
MS. MCENANY: What the President was saying is that he wants to make sure that we get good information to the American people. That's something that I think we've done. And this President —
Q But hasn't he admitted that he's provided information at times that was not true?
MS. MCENANY: That's —
Q He said he was — he said he was "downplaying" it. So, purposefully, he was providing information at times that was not fully true.
MS. MCENANY: That's absolutely inaccurate. The President never downplayed critical health information. The President never downplayed —
Q He said he did.
MS. MCENANY: — our COVID response. And you can just see that by the historic effort that we've put forward.
And I would also point you to Dr. Fauci, who said, "I don't recall anything different in our discussions with the President that he said things quite similarly in public." And he was asked directly by none other than John Roberts, "Did you ever get the sense that he was or wasn't playing this down?" "No, no, I didn't." And that's an assertion echoed by the Vice President.
Our response: When you look, that 100 million tests that we've exceeded, the vaccine on record pace, the therapeutics, the fact that we brought fatality down by 85 percent. This was a novel pathogen that came in, for which there were no test and there were no identified therapeutics, but they were identified very quickly.
And also, with regard to the vaccine, when you look at the notion that we are manufacturing this at commercial levels, which I was told by Dr. Slaoui that that normally takes years to do, and we're already producing — the goal is 100 million doses by the end of the year. That's a testament to this President and his response.
Q If none of these vaccines are effective, what is plan B for the White House?
MS. MCENANY: Look, you're asking a hypothetical. We have six vaccines.
Q Well, it's a hypothetical with a lot of lives at stake.
MS. MCENANY: We have six American vaccines that we've identified, three of them in phase three clinical trial. There's also one —
Q And none approved.
MS. MCENANY: There's — well, we're getting there. And by the end of the year is the goal.
Q So the point is —
MS. MCENANY: And when you say —
Q — that they aren't approved. What would — what would we do if they're not approved? We all hope for good news, but what if they're not approved? What will the White House do?
MS. MCENANY: They have — we have six candidates. We are a strong belief that we will identify one, hopefully more than one working vaccine, by the end of the year. Producing them in advance; we already have a distribution plan.
And when you compare this — I think context matters — Ebola taking 14 months to get to phase three clinical trial. We already have two candidates in phase three clinical trial. Ebola took three years to get to completion. We will have done this in under a year, the fastest rate for a novel pathogen in history.
Q Can I ask about the Court? Just really quick — a quick follow-up on the Court.
MS. MCENANY: Sure.
Q The President did retweet today a segment from Rush Limbaugh where Limbaugh suggested, quote, "It would be great if Republicans skipped committee hearings on this pick altogether." Does the President want Republicans to skip committee hearings? They're a co-equal branch of government. Why is he directing them to do anything?
MS. MCENANY: The President is a fan of Rush Limbaugh, appreciates his commentary, and therefore retweeted it.
But we're working with the Senate right now on that confirmation process. And Senator Graham has said it looks like it will be on a three-day timeline.
Q So he wants that? He wants the committee to go forward?
MS. MCENANY: Justin.
Q Thanks, Kayleigh. One on SCOTUS and then one on the stimulus. Can you confirm that the President is planning to meet with Judge Lagoa in Florida while he's down there this week?
And he said yesterday that he had spoken to some candidates beforehand. I know that Judge Barrett was in here yesterday, but I was wondering if you could talk about any of the others that he may have already had contact with.
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, I won't get into his private meetings. You will find out which Constitution-abiding textualist and originalist he is appointing on Saturday.
Q And then, on the stimulus: It's been kind of a rocky couple days on Wall Street. I think there's concern that the Supreme Court fight may, sort of, kill the last gasps of getting a stimulus bill done before the election. Does the White House agree that that's probably not going to happen until after the election, if at all? Or if you are still hopeful — you know, the President said "when the time is right," he'd be willing to reach out to Speaker Pelosi. It seems like we're getting down into the last legislative days before the election. Is the time now right?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, we've wanted to see a phase four relief bill get to the American people. It's why the Chief of Staff and Secretary Mnuchin have been in negotiations.
Unfortunately, though, they've been in negotiations with a fundamentally unserious partisan named Speaker Pelosi, who, when we would exceed what she asked for — with school funding, let's say — she then would reject the money that was in excess of what she had previously asked for.
Democrats, I think, showed what they were about when they filibustered a bill that would have provided $300 a week to the American people through December 27th. They filibustered that, I believe, last week.
So at this point, the onus is really on Speaker Pelosi. We encourage her to send one-off bills, perhaps airline funding, or other elements that we could work through the process to get to the American people. It's always been this President's priority to do that.
Q So you don't see a, kind of, big stimulus bill, but you might see one-off bills before Election Day?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, the onus is on Nancy Pelosi. You know, we've come up in our number to $1.5 trillion. So it's possible, should she become serious in these negotiations. But, at this point, if she doesn't want to deliver relief to the American people to that degree, then she can one-off some bills that we would look at and be happy to move forward with, because the priority has always been getting money to the American people, which is why the President has had those EOs on evictions and unemployment insurance and student loans and evictions.
Q The first presidential debate is a week from today. How do you expect the Supreme Court issue to impact that debate?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, so, you know, a lot of that is for the campaign with regards to the debate, so I'd have to refer you there.
But I think the American people are going to get a very clear-eyed look — as they have with the previous two nominees we've made — of what this President stands for: that we wants a judge who will protect our fundamental rights, our essential liberties; who looks at the Constitution as written, not trying to fancifully interpret that document; who looks at the plain meaning of statutes and implements that and rules in a way that a true textualist would.
This is a President who will protect the Second Amendment, who will protect the First Amendment. And these fundamental rights are at stake should another — should another party have their way with the judiciary. But this President will continue to appoint justices in the mold of Gorsuch and of Justice Kavanaugh.
Q And, separately, the Democrats are threatening to add justices to the Supreme Court, as you mentioned. Does that concern you at all as you go about this process?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, that's — it's unfortunately another example of trying to blow up the system. If you don't get your way, Democrats will blow up the system; they will change the system; they will trample on the Constitution. And, you know, I would point them to the words of Justice Ginsburg, who called court-packing a "bad idea"; she called it "partisan." She said, "Nine seems to be a good number. I think packing the Court was a bad idea when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried it, and I'm not in favor of all of that."
Q I had a question on the virus, but I wanted just to follow up on Justin. He asked about the Speaker. Has the President called the Speaker about the recovery bill? And why not, if he wants to get this done? And is he calling other lawmakers as well?
MS. MCENANY: I'm not aware of any conversation that they've had. There have been communications through the Chief of Staff, through the Secretary of Treasury. But until Speaker Pelosi becomes serious in her negotiating instead of — she's engaging in political drama, we're really at a stalemate. So it's really — the ball is in her court to become serious in these negotiations.
Q But it would carry more weight if the President called in than Mark Meadows, correct?
MS. MCENANY: They've — they've been negotiating, and when we believe the Speaker is in a serious spot, we can move forward with other conversations. But at this point, when you ask for a certain amount of school funding, we exceed that, and then you reject the excess for school funding — I mean, it just really shows where her mindset is at.
Q Okay. And my question on the virus was that some polls are showing that a majority of Americans don't trust what the President is saying on the virus vaccine. And I wondered, you keep — you all keep talking about the vaccine possibly coming out. How are you going to get people to believe that the vaccine is safe and that people should go get it when it does come out? What are you — what is the process going to be looking like?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, so I think — first, I want to point out that several of the doctors have been on the record and have said that this vaccine is going through the same rigorous process it should.
As Dr. Hahn has said, "I've repeatedly said that all FDA decisions have been and will continue to be based solely on good science and data." As Dr. Fauci said, "Certainly there are no corners being cut here." And several others, like Secretary Azar, have been on the record on this.
So the members of the task force have all said this is going through the rigorous FDA process, and it will be a good, safe, and effective vaccine.
Q Just following up to Anita's question on the vaccine: How soon would the President feel comfortable taking a vaccine himself? And would he support a non-American vaccine, perhaps even from China or Russia?
MS. MCENANY: So first, I would say this: that the President has been on the record saying, "I'm happy to be the first person to take the vaccine or the last person — whatever is best for the American people." He believes it'll be a safe and effective vaccine and one he would certainly be open to taking. And he said this: "I'm going to really say something that is not like me: I don't care — I just want to get a vaccine that works. I really don't care if it's another country. I'll take my hat off to them." But currently, I think the other vaccine in phase three clinical trial is the one in Oxford.
MS. MCENANY: Kayleigh, just to clarify on the Mitt Romney development: With Senator Romney's announcement, does the President think he actually has a bulletproof group of Republicans who will vote no matter what, even before the nominee is named? Or does he fear some defections after that nominee is named and the confirmation hearings begin?
MS. MCENANY: No, he thinks his nominee is going to be someone with a stellar track record; someone who, as I've mentioned several of the qualities, will be a textualist, who will be an originalist, and someone who we believe Republicans will really rally around. And Senator Graham said that he believes that he'll have the votes. And, you know, we'll leave it to the senators at this point. But this will be a nominee that will really, I think, unify Republicans.
Q Well, the President has been a pretty nose counter. Does he think he has 51?
MS. MCENANY: He was — I missed the first part of what you said.
Q The President has been a pretty good nose counter. Does he think he has 51?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, I think at this point, he's just trying to select the nominee. I haven't spoken to him about the vote count. But we believe that Republicans will remain unified, and we believe that this nominee will get across the finish line.
Q The President is giving a healthcare speech on Thursday. Is this finally going to be his long-awaited comprehensive healthcare policy? Because there were doubts that such a thing actually exists.
MS. MCENANY: No, it certainly does exist. The President, in the next week or so, will be laying out his vision for healthcare. Some of that has already been put out there, like telemedicine and lowering the cost of drugs. But the President — and protecting preexisting conditions. But the President will be laying out some additional healthcare steps in the coming, I would say, two weeks.
Q Thanks so much, Kayleigh. I have two questions. The first is: The President has said Roe v. Wade would be overturned if he got a chance to change the balance on the Court. He said, in 2016, quote, "If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that will happen." Is that the ultimate goal here, to overturn Roe v. Wade?
MS. MCENANY: The President and the administration would not ask a judge to prejudge a case. And I would point you to the rule set by none other than Senator Joe Biden at the confirmation hearing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, when he instructed no questions on how Ginsburg will decide any specific case that would come before her.
And as Justice Ginsburg said in her confirmation, "No hints, no forecast, no previews." And Canon 5 of the Model Code of Judicial Conduct also reflects that a judge should refrain from giving specific viewpoints on cases, controversies, or issues.
Q I'm asking you whether or not the President's quote in 2016, whether he still stands by that — that he would like to see it overturned.
MS. MCENANY: The President's philosophy, as he's moving forward with this nomination process, is he's looking at a judge that has certain qualities, and that is someone who looks at the Constitution and interprets it as written, interprets the plain meaning of statutes as written, and will be a textualist and an originalist.
Q Can I ask you the second question about the virus?
MS. MCENANY: Yes.
Q Again, we've marked the fact that 200,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus. Could you again try to reconcile the President telling Bob Woodward that "plenty of young people" — quote, his words — "plenty of young people" are affected by the coronavirus, with him saying last night, in front of a crowd, that "virtually nobody" young dies or is affected by this virus?
I'm wondering if you could just reconcile those two. Why did he tell Bob Woodward that "plenty of young people" are impacted by this virus, but not say that in front of a crowd?
MS. MCENANY: Well, as you know, this was a novel pathogen. We now know a lot more about COVID today. And the President actually said that in a speech last night, right before the comments he made. He said we now know a lot more about the virus, and we know that elderly people, particularly those with comorbidities, are affected by it, and we know that young people are, by and large — and in some states, there's been no young people that have succumbed to this disease. And I've listed off a few of the states for you.
We know that a very, very small percentage of those under 18 have actually perished because of COVID. And it was a novel pathogen, and now we know a lot more about it, who it affects, who our most vulnerable are, which is why we've surged testing to communities that are vulnerable and will continue to make sure that our elderly and those with comorbidities are protected.
Q But he's not continuing to downplay it and not — not continue to try to, like, not have panic? He told Bob Woodward that he wanted to downplay and play it down to not cause panic. You don't think he's doing that still?
MS. MCENANY: The President has never downplayed critical health information.
Q He said that to Bob Woodward.
MS. MCENANY: Dr. Fauci, as I noted to you, said, point blank, "No, he didn't." And that an assertion the Vice Pre- — that Vice President Pence, who led the task force, made as well.
Q Thanks, Kayleigh. The administration has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court on apportionment, trying to make sure that people in the country illegally are not counted when congressional seats are handed out. Sorry, I'm a little muffled. Texas is one of the states that would lose a seat if those people are not counted.
The Constitution says that the people in a state are the number that are used for apportionment. Are those — are people in the country illegally not people? And why does the President not want Texas to have more seats rather than fewer in the U.S. House?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, I haven't done a particular — a deep dive into that legal case. I can look into it and get back to you.
Q Can I ask you a separate question?
MS. MCENANY: Sure.
Q At the top of this, you mentioned that Democrats have talked about impeachment, and you also said that a President doesn't stop being President in the last year.
Is there any — not that they're actually going through the impeachment at the moment, but is there anything to prevent an impeachment in the final months of a presidency?
MS. MCENANY: Well, first, I mean, to pursue impeachment based on someone executing their lawful duty, their constitutional duty, is just preposterous. And it told us a whole lot about what Democrats use impeachment for. It shows that they've always viewed impeachment — at least in the Nancy Pelosi era — as a partisan tool to take down a sitting President, to disempower the American people who voted to empower President Trump. They've used impeachment as a political tool. And that is — that will be the history and the record of Nancy Pelosi.
Now, she's on the record saying that she would even use impeachment to try to undo the Constitution, particularly Article Two, Section Two. That is shameful but unsurprising from the Speaker.
Q In his U.N. speech, President Trump mentioned the reduction of carbon emission in the U.S.
MS. MCENANY: Of what? Sorry.
Q Carbon emission in the U.S.
MS. MCENANY: Okay. I can't really hear you.
Q Carbon emission.
MS. MCENANY: Oh, carbon emission. Okay.
Q Saying it was a good thing because it's connected with the reduction of use of coal. Is it to say that decline of coal is a good thing?
MS. MCENANY: I would just note that, on greenhouse gas emissions, we have decreased them as the U.S. has become number one in the oil — in the oil and natural gas production. But we've simultaneously reduced greenhouse emissions.
Q I also wanted to follow up on the speech the President prepared for the U.N. General Assembly. He hit China really hard. And the Chinese ambassador introducing President Xi responded, accusing the President of bullying, protectionism, and unilateralism. I'm wondering what the White House response is to that.
And then, how concerned is this White House that this growing rift between the world's two largest economies is going to hurt the efforts to combat coronavirus?
MS. MCENANY: Let me just say, nothing has hurt the efforts to combat the coronavirus more than —
Q The global efforts.
MS. MCENANY: — more than China concealing information about COVID-19 from the very beginning. What China did was inexcusable: In partnership with the WHO, hid critical information about transmission of COVID from us, about the severity of COVID — not just from us, but from the world.
There is no bigger bully than China when it comes to COVID, and that's pretty clear. And just look at what happened at the WHO.
Q Can I just have one quick follow-up? With regard to the intelligence around the poisoning of the Russian opposition leader, the President said, "We'll talk about that another time." I'm just trying to get a sense of: Has the President reviewed the German assessment? Is he rejecting that assessment that he was indeed poisoned?
MS. MCENANY: No, the United States, as president of the G7, and joined by our G7 partners, has condemned in the strongest possible terms the confirmed poisoning.
And Germany briefed the G7 on clinical and toxilogical [sic] findings by medical experts. And a specialized Germ- — German armed forces laboratory determined that Mr. Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent, a substance developed by Russia. And any use of chemical weapons — anywhere, anytime, by anyone, under any circumstance — is unacceptable.
Q So what would the U.S. response be then?
MS. MCENANY: I — again, I've told you, so far, that the United States has condemned it, along with G7. And rest assured there's been no one tougher on Russia than this country. You've seen what we've done with sanctions, in expelling diplomats, among other actions.
Q Kayleigh, expanding on the last couple of questions about the U.N. speech, the President does get China pretty hard, specifically on China's slave labor practices and ethnic cleansing. But then, interestingly, he dives into their environmental record. "China dumps millions and millions of tons of plastic and trash into the oceans, overfishes other country's waters, destroys vast swaths of coral reefs, and emits more toxic mercury into the atmosphere than any country anywhere in the world." How responsive have the United States' allies been to this message from the President and on confronting China on these fronts in particular?
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, I would say the world is unified in condemning some of the human rights violations by China. And also, I would note, just on the issue of CO2 emissions, there's no bigger emitter than China itself.
Q Thank you, Kayleigh. A Heritage Foundation report has discovered a financial link between an organization linked to Black Lives Matter and a pro-Chinese Beijing group. Is that something that the White House would investigate? And is that something you're concerned about?
MS. MCENANY: So I haven't seen that particular reporting. But just on the note of some of the violence that we've been seeing, I would just point out this New York Times article that came out:
"Terrance Moses was watching protesters against police brutality march down his quiet residential street one recent evening when some in the group of a few hundred suddenly stopped and started yelling.
Mr. Moses was initially not sure what the protesters were upset about, but as he got closer, he saw it: [It was] his neighbor [who] had an American flag on display.
'It went from a peaceful march, calling out the names, to all of a sudden, bang, 'How dare you fly the American flag,' said Mr. Moses, who is Black and runs a nonprofit group in the Portland, Oregon, area. 'They said, "Take it down. They wouldn't leave. They said they're going to come back and burn down the House.'
Mr. Moses and others blocked the demonstrators and told them to leave."
Mr. Moses said, "We don't go around terrorizing folks to try and force them to do something they don't want to do," who runs a nonprofit group that provides support for local homelessness people. He said, "I'm a veteran. I'm for these liberties."
It is shameful the violence we've seen in our cities that is now spilling into suburbs across the country. And good work and good reporting by the New York Times on that.
Now I'd like to invite Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg to the podium to discuss a disgruntled former detailee. General Kellogg is a three-star general, a veteran of the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm. General Kellogg has been supporting President Trump from the beginning and has been by the President's side for major foreign policy decisions.
General Kellogg, please.
LIEUTANANT GENERAL KELLOGG: Thanks, Kayleigh. Good afternoon. I'm Keith Kellogg. Olivia Troye worked for me. I fired her.
The reason I fired her was her performance had started to drop after six months working on the task force as a backbencher. She was responsible for coordinating meetings, bringing people together. And when the performance level dropped off, I went to the Vice President of the United States and recommended she leave.
I'm the one that escorted her off the compound. What she has said, I have never heard. That's never happened. And I've been to every single meeting of the task force. I've been with the President and the Vice President through every meeting.
What bothers me about what Olivia said is, by insinuation, the disparagement of the task force, the Vice President, and the President of the United States. When you look at what the task force has done, we are now facing the worst pandemic we have seen in over 100 years, and we're fighting through it.
We are this close to a vaccine that will work. We are finally fighting through it, and we're developing some opportunities to make sure the American people are protected as we go forward.
And when we've had the doctors that are out there, when the comments she has made — when you looked at the Dr. Faucis, Dr. Birx, and Redfield, Stephen Hahn, Dr. Giroir — all of these doctors who have worked exceptionally hard for the American people.
The President has made some critical decisions all the way along the line. Tough decisions. He made a decision on the China travel ban when we had less than a dozen known cases here in the United States. He was the one who set up the air bridge, working with commercial companies, so we would develop and bring in PPE in 27 hours instead of 27 days. He's the one who went to companies like 3M, so we could ra- — more rapidly manufacture the N95 masks going forward. He's the one who drove all those efforts.
And I heard the comments made about the people we have lost. Do not think for a minute, that that has not bothered us; it does. Because we know, on the task force: Several of those people, scores of those people died without relatives because they couldn't get in because of COVID. We know that. Scores of them died on ventilators when they're under sedition [sic] — sedation, because they didn't have an opportunity to see their loved ones. That bothers us every single day; don't think it doesn't. And it bothers the President.
And the President has been very confident that we're going to get to a solution. You want a President, you want a leader that displays confidence that we have something going forward, that we're going to win and beat this virus. And that's what he's done all the way along the line.
I'm very proud of the President of the United States. I'm very proud of the Vice President of the United States. I'm very proud of the task force and the work it's done. I am not proud of Olivia Troye.
Q So, General —
Q General Kellogg, should the President be having these big rallies? Should the President be having these big rallies when there's a pandemic going on?
MS. MCENANY: Thank you, Lieutenant General. We appreciate you doing that — that. What we have here, with this former disgruntled detailee and with Miles Taylor as well — these are not profiles in courage, but these are profiles in cowardice.
Less than two months ago, now disgruntled former detailee, Olivia Troye, proudly declared that she was serving in the Trump administration, and it had been, quote, "the honor of [her] life." Troye said, quote, "I have witnessed firsthand how dedicated and committed all of you have been to doing the right thing." She wrote that just about a month and a half ago.
Troye failed to speak up, and she struggled to keep up because she was constantly complaining about how exhausted and overwhelmed she was coordinating conference calls and scheduling meetings. Troye's detail was cut short, and now she's cutting commercials for a fringe club of, quote, "Never Trumpers" who are desperate for relevancy. And the price of admission to this club is fabricated smears and flat-out lies against President Trump.
Troye joins the similarly irrelevant Miles Taylor, CNN's latest contributor. Taylor proudly posed for a photo with the President, smiling ear to ear. Taylor wrote that, quote, "It was the honor of [his] lifetime to serve as DHS Chief of Staff." But Miles couldn't go the distance. Those who knew Miles during his short time in the administration knew he could not get results.
After he left, DHS actually got the results in securing the border, building the border wall, and more. Desperate to please his new Silicon Valley friends, Miles made up lies against President Trump to fit in. He can now rest easy at Google, having earned his anti-Trump credentials and the approval of his big-tech peers.
Neither of these individuals knew the President, but they are certainly tried to profit — trying to profit off of their ti- — off of their time here in the White House. Flat-out lies.
And thank you, General Kellogg, for setting the record straight. Thank you.
END 2:01 P.M. EDT
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