7/16/2020 Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany holds White House briefing
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July 16, 2020

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On 7/16/2020, during a press briefing at the White House, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany slammed Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s remarks in a Washington Post op-ed about Trump’s shortcomings during the coronavirus pandemic, calling it “revisionist history” and pointing to the governor’s past praise of Trump.

“It’s really striking, his comments, especially when you compare them to his past comments. This is revisionist history by Governor Hogan and it stands in stark contrast to what he said on March 19 where he praised the great communication that the president has had with governors,” McEnany added, noting that Hogan has in the past praised Trump’s coronavirus response. In April, Hogan praised the administration’s guidelines for reopening.

McEnany was asked about criticism that Trump has inappropriately politicized recent White House events, including his Rose Garden press conference earlier this week, during which the president leveled attacks against Joe Biden. In response, the press secretary said the White House always complies with the Hatch Act, an ethics law that exempts the president and the vice president from its provisions. She said, “What your real problem was is that the president gave a very good, powerful speech from the Rose Garden.”

McEnany also defended Trump’s push to reopen schools, despite concerns about the spread of coronavirus in the classroom. “And when he says open, he means open and full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school. The science should not stand in the way of this,” McEnany said, adding moments later, “The science is on our side here.”
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Full Transcript
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room 7/16/2020 2:30 P.M. EDT

MS. MCENANY: Hello, everyone. This afternoon, President Trump will deliver remarks on rolling back regulations to help all Americans. Deregulation has been a top priority of this President. The President reversed the disastrous over-regulation of the Obama-Biden administration. Under President Trump, seven deregulatory actions have been taken for every one new regulation. This amounted to $50 billion in regulatory cost savings.

And it is important to note that this deregu- — deregulation agenda lowers costs for every American. The cost of these burdensome regulations fall disproportionately and benefit disproportionately lower-income Americans. So this President took action to roll back the burdensome regulations that harm low-income communities and make sure that these lower-income Americans are taken care of.

For example, the President’s deregulatory agenda will boost household income by $3,100 annually. Thanks to President Trump’s rolling back of the Obama-Biden-era CAFE standards, family — families will have access to cheaper cars. The President’s healthcare deregulation will also save patients nearly 10 percent on prescription drug costs.

These real wins for the American people will disappear with a re-regulation agenda, which is why President Trump will continue to pursue his historic deregulatory activity.

On another note: We saw encouraging news yesterday on vaccines. Moderna’s vaccine candidate is showing promising signs. They produced a positive, neutral immune response among the 45 participants in the study. This is comparable to what we see in recovered patients. And the bottom line is that, so far, we are seeing exactly what you would hope to see in a vaccine. They’re expected — the Moderna vaccine in particular is expected to reach phase three by late July, with 30,000 participants

And finally, on the therapeutics front, I just want to note: A very encouraging Regeneron contract. A $450 million contract for a monoclonal antibody cocktail. This is a bioengineered version of convalescent plasma, one of the several therapeutics available to treat COVID. It can be used for prophylaxis and treatment. And they say they could have up to 70 to 300 thousand doses — vials of this by the end of the summer or early fall.

So Operation Warp Speed continues. We continue to see encouraging news on the therapeutics front. And with that, I will take your questions.

Geoff.

Q Thank you, Kayleigh. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said today that President Trump has left states to fend for themselves during this pandemic. He accused the President of not listening to medical experts. That is quite a takedown coming from a Republican governor.

MS. MCENANY: Yeah, it’s really striking, his comments, especially when you compare them to his past comments. This is revisionist history by Governor Hogan, and it stands in stark contrast to what he said on March 19th, where he praised the great communication that the President has had with governors. On March 19th, he also said, “Thank you. There’s been tremendous cooperation.”

And what is so striking to me about reading that op-ed is Governor Hogan begins with this dramatic April 18th scene where South Korea delivered tests, but just the day prior, he said something entirely different. He, in fact, thanked the President for the progress we’ve seen in federal and state coordination in recent weeks, and went on to praise testing capabilities, he said, with regard to some of the top needs of states, including ventilators and texting capabilities. So 24 hours before this dramatic opening scene of his op-ed, he literally was praising the President of the United States for delivering on testing.

Q And how do you explain that President Trump is trailing his opponent by double digits both nationally and in battleground states, with majorities disapproving of his handling of race relations and the coronavirus response?

MS. MCENANY: So that would be a question for the campaign when it comes to campaign polling. But what I would say is we believe this President has great approval in this country. His historic COVID response speaks for itself with delivering on ventilators and testing, leading the world in the amount of testing we’ve provided; therapeutics; the 13 vaccine candidates — the Moderna example that I pointed out to you. This President’s response has been historic, and we believe his support in this country reflects that.

But with pertaining to battleground polling or campaign-related polling, I’d refer you there.

Yes.

Q Kayleigh, we’ve seen the President hold a range of public events this week, but none of those events have been focused on the coronavirus. Why not?

MS. MCENANY: The President is routinely focused on the coronavirus. I think you’ll be hearing more about what we’re doing in the coming week. He’s hard at work. We talk about COVID every day from this podium. The task force is hard at work.

And I’m glad you ask about COVID, in particular, because I just want to read through some of the things that we are doing, which I think is — most important than what we’re saying is what we’re doing.

And the White House has engaged in travel. Dr. Birx went to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. I spoke with Dr. Birx this morning. She’s in Georgia today, heading to South Carolina tomorrow. HHS has deployed 19 teams across the country. We identify not where we see embers, but pre that. We identify where we might see an emergence, and we send teams there to address it in advance. So we’re proactive.

Dr. Birx routinely sends real-time data to governors. She gives them governors reports on remdesivir. We’ve surged it to Texas, Florida, California, Arizona. Sixty-five thousand vials went to these four states. And we’re also surging testing sites. So we’re doing stuff each and every day.

Q But, Kayleigh, surely you would agree this is the biggest challenge facing the public right now. Why aren’t we seeing it as the President’s biggest public priority?

MS. MCENANY: The President is focusing on a lot. Look, the President, just yesterday, held a big press conference, if you will, or an avail in the Opal [sic] — Oval Office about MS-13. COVID is something that we’re focused on. It is a top priority of this administration. It’s why the task force meets. It’s why I had mentioned to you we’re taking all those steps.

But there are other things the President has to focus on: namely, Democrat cities not controlling their streets; namely, the mayor of Chicago — people dying in her — in her — on the streets of her city every weekend. And the President sent her a letter saying, “You must secure your city.”

The President is involved in Operation LeGend, in honor of LeGend Taliferro, a young man who lost his life; sending federal assistance to St. Louis, a city that has asked for help, and he’s shown up. The President is focused on MS-13, who tragically maimed and killed those two young little girls, and he’s held their killer accountable — the leader of that ring.

So the President is focused on COVID. It’s a top priority. He is focused on the violence in the streets. He’s doing a lot of things at once, and that’s the great thing about the Trump administration.

Yes.

Q But just quickly, when is the last time he attended a task force briefing?

MS. MCENANY: The President is briefed on coronavirus each and every day.

Yes, Darlene.

Q Thank you. Does the White House agree that it’s not helpful for people to wait seven days or longer to get the results of their coronavirus test? And is the White House going to do anything to try to shorten those wait times so that people can get their results sooner?

MS. MCENANY: So we’ve done more than any country in the world on testing; there’s no doubt about that — 42 million tests. The country with the next highest number is India at 12 million.

There are various different types of tests in this country; some take longer to process than others. But we have surged testing to the states, and we encourage them to use it to their best ability and to process those tests as quickly as possible.

Yes, Weijia.

Q Hi, Kayleigh. Thank you. To follow up on that: It’s not just about the quantity of testing; it’s about the quality of testing. So is the administration doing anything specifically to make all the tests out there return quicker results — because, you know, a lot of health experts are worried that when people have to wait seven days or longer, they’re out and they’re spreading the disease unknowingly.

MS. MCENANY: So, as I noted, there are several different types of tests. There’s the Abbott rapid response test. There are other tests that take longer. Dr. Birx and Admiral Giroir are constantly out there advising on testing and how to process these tests.

Ultimately, we can give the states the supplies, but they’ve got to use them in the best way possible to get results as quickly as possible. But rest assured, our team is fully engaged, from Admiral Giroir to Dr. Birx and others.

And Admiral Giroir shared with me we have 552 sites testing in America in 48 states and the District of Columbia; 65 percent of these sites are located in counties with moderate to high social vulnerability; and 201 additional sites will be going live this week. And that’s on top of the 1,300 federally qualified health centers that are out there testing as well, and the commercial testing sites at CVS.

Q I have another question, Kayleigh.

MS. MCENANY: Yes.

Q In an interview with CBS News, President Trump said, “More white people are killed,” as an answer to why black people are still being killed by police officers. But by population percentages, black people are about three times more likely than white people to die in a police encounter. If the President won’t even acknowledge that, how can he fix the problem?

MS. MCENANY: The President has routinely acknowledged and expressed the absolute atrocity of the case of George Floyd, and his heart goes out to that family still. He was noting a fact that there were — when you look at unarmed killings with police interactions in this country, that you had 9 unarmed black individuals who were fatally shot and 19 unarmed white individuals. That’s down from 38 and 32, respectively, in 2015. So numbers have actually come down since the Obama administration. He was making that point.

But one point he wants to strongly make is this: that black men and women who die of homicide, they’re likely to die of homicide at eight times greater than that of white individuals and Hispanics combined. That’s the rate combined. So that’s an extraordinary thing that we want to look at.

I’ve listed for you the names of these kids who have died across this country. It is unacceptable, and under this President, he’ll take action. And the derelict mayor of Chicago should step up and ask for federal help because she’s doing a very poor job at securing her streets.

Q I was talking about —

MS. MCENANY: Yes.

Q — people who are dying at the hands of police officers.

MS. MCENANY: Yes.

Q Is the President considering travel bans for members of the Communist Party to enter the U.S.? And is he concerned about escalation of tensions with China?

MS. MCENANY: So I have no announcements on that front, but rest assured we keep every option on the table with regard to China.

Q Has he ruled out any options at all?

MS. MCENANY: He’s not ruled out any options with regard to China.

Yes. Jeff.

Q Thanks, Kayleigh. Does the White House have a reaction to the hacking of Twitter last night? And do you have any broader concerns or does the President have any broader concerns about using that platform to issue not only his own opinions, but official policy pronouncements, given its apparent vulnerability to hacking?

MS. MCENANY: Yes, so I spoke with Dan Scavino before coming out here — my team did. And Dan has been — and his team and digital have been in constant contact with Twitter over the last 18 hours to keep Twitter secure — the President’s Twitter feed. The President will remain on Twitter, but his account was secure and not jeopardized during these attacks.

Q Okay. And just one follow-up to Weijia’s question. I guess I didn’t follow the data that you were just referring to. Are you saying that the President did have data to back up his claim that more white people are killed by police officers than black people?

MS. MCENANY: Yeah, and I’ve already read out that data to you.

Q I don’t think we followed it. It didn’t —

MS. MCENANY: I’ve already read out that data to you, and you can go fact-check on the Washington Post.

Yes.

Q Kayleigh, two quick questions. First, Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas has been charged with three felonies in a voter fraud case. Obviously, the President campaigned with him in 2018, and he’s repeatedly expressed concern with voter fraud. So does he have a reaction to that?

MS. MCENANY: That’s the first I’m hearing of that. I haven’t spoken to the President of it. He does have very real concerns about voter fraud, and he’s mentioned several of those. And there’s yet more information that there is rampant voter fraud when you have mass mail-in voting. In 2016, as the President has noted, about 1 percent of absentee ballots nationwide were thrown out, and it could be much higher this year, as many people vote by mail for the first time. That’s one of the flaws with mass mail-in voting.

But beyond that, we’ve seen a number of reports out of New Jersey that found a U.S. Postal Service vehicle that may have been carrying mail-in ballots that were — that was caught on fire, this truck. This was recent. Also, in the New Jersey Star-Ledger, on June 22nd — this was very striking — 500 to 700 Republicans received ballots with all Democrat candidates. They were erroneous mail-in ballots that had been voided and then reissued. And the slate of candidates on these ballots was all Democrat, from Joe Biden down to dogcatcher. And these were supposed to be Republican ballots.

Those are three recent examples, and there are many more.

Q Just a quick second question, Kayleigh. When the President made the initial decision to move the Republican National Convention from Charlotte to Florida, he said that it was because the North Carolina governor was in a shutdown mood and that he was playing politics because he didn’t want to pack an indoor stadium to full capacity. He also said that the cost to North Carolinians would be — and I’m quoting the President now — “all of the jobs and the economic development the convention would bring.”

So all of that money, all of that time, all of that cost to jobs and economic development to North Carolinians for the same result — right? — because they’re trying to make the convention in Florida — what does the President have to say the North Carolinians?

MS. MCENANY: So, the President loves the people of North Carolina, and they’re well aware of that. The President wanted to be able to hold his convention, which is why it was moved to Jacksonville. And for anything further, I’d refer you to the RNC.

Yes.

Q Thank you, Kayleigh. The President has talked about an executive order on immigration coming soon. He’s also talked about protections for DACA recipients. It’s been unclear, though, whether those protections — the path to citizenship that the President talked about — will be included in the executive order. So I was hoping you could clarify: Will the path to citizenship protections for DACA be part of the executive order?

MS. MCENANY: So what I would say is this: As the President announced, he’s working on an executive order to establish a merit-based immigration system. That will be the intent of the executive order.

But the President has long said that he would look for a legislative solution on DACA, and he would work with Congress to pursue that legislative solution, and one that could include citizenship, along with other strong border security and permanent merit-based reforms. So that is something he would work with Congress on. Yeah, and the executive order would pertain to the merit-based portion of that.

Q And can I ask a second question? On the schools: The President — the Vice President talked about some of the new guidelines or new pages of documents for CDC coming out this week. Is that still the plan? Are those going to come out this week? Is there any chance that this is being rethought at this time?

MS. MCENANY: So those are CDC guidelines you’re referencing, so I’ll leave it to CDC as to when those guidelines come out. But we really would like to see schools open. As has been clear, we don’t think our children should be locked up at home with devastating consequences when it’s perfectly safe for them to go to school, as emphasized by many medical experts.

So the President is very keen on seeing schools reopen. It’s the only thing that’s fair to America’s children.

Yes.

Q Thanks, Kayleigh. Two quick questions for you. On Wednesday, the CDC director said, quote, “If all of us would put on a face covering now for the next four weeks, six weeks, I think we could drive this epidemic into the ground.” Admiral Giroir has made similar comments. The CDC director called it our, quote, “major defense.”

I’m wondering if the President would consider at any point a nationwide mask mandate.

MS. MCENANY: Well, the President has said that he would wear a mask if he was in a place where he couldn’t be appropriately social distanced. He did wear a mask this weekend when he visited the hospital. So he has shown that, you know, he’ll wear a mask, and not only that — that he would wear one if he wasn’t socially distanced, as evidenced by his own actions.

We leave it to localities to make the decisions with regard to face coverings. And the CDC guidelines remain the same today: “recommended” but not “required.”

Q A quick second question for you. You were saying earlier that the President is very concerned about local officials who are not taking actions about, you know, deaths in your cities. You also said he was appalled by what happened to George Floyd.

In March, a 26-year-old black woman named Breonna Taylor was killed while sleeping in her home. The three officers involved in that case in Kentucky have not been arrested or fired. Is the President monitoring that case at all? And does he want to see justice for Breonna Taylor?

MS. MCENANY: Yeah, I won’t weigh into that other than to say I’d refer you to the DOJ, who takes federal action where necessary, where the facts merit. But our hearts grieve for Breonna Taylor’s family.

Q Thank you.

MS. MCENANY: Lalit.

Q Thank you. Another question on China. President Trump is the only U.S. President to have stood strong against China, which is of great comfort to countries like India and his other allies in the Asian neighborhood. Does he have a message to China on this? And has he spoken with China and other countries on how to collaborate against (inaudible)?

MS. MCENANY: Thank you, Lalit. I did see your question earlier, and I brought it to the President, and he said, “I love the people of India, and I love the people of China, and I want to do everything possible to keep the peace for the people.” Thank you.

Q Yes, two — a question that flows from two events that we saw recently that we wouldn’t have seen in previous White Houses. The first was the campaign meeting in the Cabinet Room last month, and then the political speech in the Rose Garden this week. Can you talk about your understanding of what the White House policy is for this White House, as far as politics? Is there any place in the White House where you think politics is inappropriate? And where do you — where do you draw the line?

MS. MCENANY: We act in accordance with the Hatch Act. It’s well established that the President and Vice President are not subject to the Hatch Act. It says this much in the Hatch Act. It says that the Hatch Act applies to executive branch employees, which is defined in the Hatch Act as “employee,” meaning any individual other than the President and the Vice President.

So his speech in the Rose Garden was entirely —

Q That’s not my question. The Hatch Act has nothing to do with it.

MS. MCENANY: — appropriate.

Owen.

Q The Hatch Act has nothing to do with this, though.

MS. MCENANY: What? It has everything to do with this. Go read the Hatch Act. That’s what you’re alleging that is problematic with the President.

Q Well, no, I’m just — I’m stating no —

MS. MCENANY: But what your real problem was, was the fact that the President gave a very good, powerful speech from the Rose Garden.

Owen.

Q Well, you talked about earlier, with school districts — what we’re seeing is more school districts — at least in Virginia, for example, last night — deciding to go online only. What does the President say to parents out there who are now going, “Okay, what do I do with my kids?”

MS. MCENANY: You know, the President has said unmistakably that he wants schools to open. And I was just in the Oval talking to him about that. And when he says open, he means open in full — kids being able to attend each and every day at their school.

The science should not stand in the way of this. And as Dr. Scott Atlas said — I thought this was a good quote — “Of course, we can [do it]. Everyone else in the…Western world, our peer nations are doing it. We are the outlier here.”

The science is very clear on this, that — you know, for instance, you look at the JAMA Pediatrics study of 46 pediatric hospitals in North America that said the risk of critical illness from COVID is far less for children than that of seasonal flu.

The science is on our side here, and we encourage for localities and states to just simply follow the science, open our schools. It’s very damaging to our children: There is a lack of reporting of abuse; there’s mental depressions that are not addressed; suicidal ideations that are not addressed when students are not in school. Our schools are extremely important, they’re essential, and they must reopen.

Yes.

Q Thanks, Kayleigh. The U.S., Canada, and the UK today accused Russia of trying to hack coronavirus research — vaccine research. I was wondering if the President has a response to Russia for that.

MS. MCENANY: Yeah, so the one thing I would say about that — and it was made — it was announced earlier today — is that we work very closely with our allies to ensure that we would take measures to keep that information safe, and we continue to do so, and we’re aware of those activities.

Yes, Chanel.

Q Thanks, Kayleigh. On the CDC — on the movement of data going straight from CDC to HHS now: Understanding that HHS needs access to real-time data, was there also any concern whatsoever undergirding this decision regarding CDC’s possible manipulation of data? There was some reports coming out of Florida — certain states were coming out and saying mid-level CDC reports were not necessarily accurate. And so was that — did that have any effect in this decision to send data straight to HHS?

MS. MCENANY: No, the intent for this decision — and I talked extensively today with Dr. Birx, with Secretary Azar, and with Dr. Redfield about this. The intent of this is: We need to make sure that there is daily data that is being given to Dr. Birx and others who are running point on a lot of our actions with remdesivir and identifying hotspots.

And I would point out — and I just want to explain this because I think there’s been some confusion in the press — that there are two methods of data collection. One is the National Healthcare Safety Network, and this is a CDC system. And this is where hospitals voluntarily report their data, and about 81 percent of hospitals were reporting their data. So we don’t need 81 percent of hospitals reporting data; we need 100 percent of hospitals reporting data because it is critical that Dr. Birx and others receive the daily admissions, ICU use, and PPE numbers. And when you’re only getting 81 percent of hospital data, that means you’ve got 19 percent of hospitals that were unaware of their needs.

So what happened is we also have a second method of using — of tracking this data, and it’s the TeleTracker database, and this is an HHS system. And this was initially used for purposes of provider relief funding, and we asked hospitals to tell us about their COVID admissions so that we could identify possible hotspots.

And as it turns out, this data ended up being more complete, more up-to-date with information. And so, ensuring that hospitals are reporting into this system, where we’re getting more complete data, was the reason that HHS has had this transition where they’ve asked hospitals to transition reporting to the TeleTractor [sic] — TeleTracker system.

It’s important, especially with remdesivir distribution, that we know exactly where the needs are so we can surge them. So this —

Q And the CDC will still have access to this data (inaudible)?

MS. MCENANY: Yes, that’s right. So I did confirm that with Dr. Redfield, that this is completely open-source data available to the CDC. Secretary Azar says we insist that they use it. And no one — and Dr. Redfield confirmed this — no one is taking access or data away from the CDC. And that data is routinely published so that the American people are fully informed.

Yes.

Q So I wanted to follow on that, briefly. There’s been some complaints, particularly among independent modelers who are using the CDC data that was updated daily to, sort of, put out their public model — some of which the White House has relied on — that now those dashboards have been taken down. So I’m wondering if the administration would, sort of, commit to making the broader database a bit more available to the public.

MS. MCENANY: The CDC database is the public data that’s been out there. It’ll continue to be public. It should be public. And this is all about getting more data out there, not less data, and ensuring, in particular, that our doctors get that daily data.

Q And —

MS. MCENANY: And one thing that I’d also like to point out for everyone is just, with regard to testing, we’ve done more than 42 million tests, as I noted. The second-highest number is 12 million from India. We’re leading the world in testing. And it’s a very stark contrast — and the President mentioned this yesterday, so I just wanted to put some — some additional information out there. It’s actually CBS reporting that, in 2009, under Obama-Biden, quote — and this is CBS reporting — “CDC abruptly advised states to stop testing for H1N1 flu, and stopped counting individual cases.”

So while this President surged testing, under the Obama administration, they stopped testing entirely. And Ron Klain, Vice President Biden’s former Chief of Staff said this: It is “purely a fortuity that [H1N1] isn’t one of the great mass casualty events in American history. It had nothing to do with us doing anything right.” This is former VP Biden’s Chief of Staff. “It just had to do with luck.”

Contrary to that, this President led the world in testing; led the world in ventilators — redistributing ventilators for therapeutics; 13 vaccine candidates — one going into phase three clinical trial. This response has been extraordinary and historic. We didn’t pause testing; the Obama-Biden administration did, and that was a shameful decision.

Thank you.

END 2:55 P.M. EDT

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