Dec 2, 2020
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany White House Press Conference Transcript December 2
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany held a press briefing on December 2. She provided updates on coronavirus and the vaccine, and addressed Trump’s pardoning of Michael Flynn. Read her full White House news briefing transcript here.
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You guys, I just got the two minute warning.
Hey, Harris, well even as these whistleblowers speak out, the Attorney General Bill Barr made it very clear yesterday that the Department of Justice has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud enough to alter the outcome of the election. Now after quite a bit of pushback from the Trump campaign, the Department of Justice put out a statement last night, noting that “the Department will continue to receive and vigorously pursue all specific and credible allegations of fraud as expeditiously as possible.” But in the words of the Attorney General, and I quote, he says, “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.”
Still, the Trump campaign is continuing to fight today, especially in Michigan where Rudy Giuliani is set to testify before the state’s House Oversight Committee. Remember, Michigan certified the election results last week, and president-elect Joe Biden won that state probably about 154,000 votes. And so far, none of the campaign’s lawsuits in that state have been successful.
As for these whistleblowers, two subcontractors for the US Postal Service have come forward saying that they’ve witnessed some irregularities with mail in ballots. Here’s the White House Press Secretary talking about that just last night.
So there’s a good chance that she will talk about that when she steps up to the podium any minute now, but she was also going to get a lot of questions about what Bill Barr said and about the Justice Department investigating these possible briberies from pardon scheme, which was detailed in court documents that were unsealed just yesterday [inaudible 00:03:47].
Kayleigh McEnany: (05:37)
Good afternoon, everyone. The United States Constitution matters even during a pandemic. While Democrat politicians seek to impose draconian restrictions against their citizens, this past week, the Supreme Court of the United States had their say on New York State’s capacity restrictions, which restricted number of attendees allowed in places of worship, but not other government-deemed essential businesses. Justice Gorsuch in the ruling said this as he rolled back Governor Cuomo’s restrictions on places of worship. He said, “It is time, past time, to make plain that while the pandemic poses many grave challenges, there is no world in which the constitution tolerated color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops, but shutter churches, synagogues, and mosques.”
Kayleigh McEnany: (06:29)
Behind me, you will see displayed images of Democrat hypocrisy playing on loop. These images depict the following: They show Governor Gavin Newsom of California dining both maskless and indoors at the fancy French Laundry restaurant, despite severe lockdown restrictions against indoor dining for the very people he governs. You’ll see Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot celebrating in the non-socially distant streets of her city. You will see Speaker Nancy Pelosi indoors at a hair salon in San Francisco, when salons in California were only open for outdoor services. And you will see CNN’s Chris Cuomo staging his emergence from quarantine in a made for television moment, coming out of the basement. And this was after Cuomo was spotted breaking his brother, Governor Cuomo’s, quarantine rules to go for a bike ride in the Hamptons Also notable is San Francisco Mayor, London Breed, who followed Governor Newsom’s lead in dining at the French Laundry with a group of eight people. And finally Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Cule dining outdoors at her favorite Santa Monica restaurant after voting to ban outdoor dining at 31,000 restaurants throughout LA, calling outdoor dining, ” A most dangerous situation.”
Kayleigh McEnany: (07:54)
Quite clearly, these Democrats do not follow their own edicts. They act in a way that their own citizens are barred from acting. Governor Cuomo-
Kayleigh McEnany: (08:03)
… way that their own citizens are barred from acting. Governor Cuomo’s decision to impose restrictions on the size of religious gatherings was rebuked by the highest court in the land. But what was Cuomo’s response? Instead of showing deference to the Constitution, he attacked the legitimacy of the court. Governor Cuomo said this, “You have a different court and I think that was the statement that the court was making. We know who he appointed to the courts. We know their ideology.” Well, in fact, the ideology of those on the Supreme Court who made the decision to support the First Amendment are in favor of freedom, the Constitution that survives even during a pandemic.
Kayleigh McEnany: (08:39)
This statement from Governor Cuomo strikes at the heart of the issue. Democrats seek control. These images behind me make clear Democrats mindset. Rules for thee, but not for me. The President stands with you, your freedom, your ability to decide how to best protect your health. We all know how to protect ourselves from COVID-19. Wash your hands, socially distance, wear a mask. But as one federal court put it, there is no pandemic exception to the Constitution. And with that, I’ll take questions.
Kayleigh McEnany: (09:11)
Welcome back, Kristin. Good to have you back.
Hi Kayleigh. Thank you so much. Good to see you. Thank you. Appreciate it. Want to ask you about comments that the Attorney General made to the associated press? He said, “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.” Given that why hasn’t President Trump conceded?
Kayleigh McEnany: (09:30)
So first he went on to say this, it was in an AP interview where he made that initial comment, but in that same AP interview, he went on to say that he thinks a lot of people are confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. And he discerned the fact that he said, “There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all.” And the campaigns litigation is all civil litigation, which is a part from something that the DOJ would be involved in.
To follow up with you on that of more than 40 cases that have been brought by the President’s legal team, the majority have been denied or dismissed. The election results have been certified in all of the battleground states. Does the President is still think he has a path to win?
Kayleigh McEnany: (10:15)
The President has said that he believes all legal votes should be counted and all illegal votes should not be counted. And in fact, the campaign is pursuing that litigation. I can’t get into the details of that litigation here, but they still do have active cases in Nevada and Wisconsin.
But how do we overturn the results when they’ve already been certified in these battleground states, Kayleigh?
Kayleigh McEnany: (10:34)
Again, the President is just looking for every legal vote to be counted, and I will leave it to the campaign to pursue their end.
And one more, does he have faith in Attorney General Bill Barr? Does he still have confidence in Bill Barr?
Kayleigh McEnany: (10:45)
The President, if he has any personnel announcements, you will be the first to know it. Yeah. We’ll go for Janet.
Hi. Thank you. Two questions. Has the President been spoken to Attorney General Bill Barr since Vince Cohen came out yesterday?
Kayleigh McEnany: (10:59)
I’m not aware if they’ve spoken. I know the Attorney General was here yesterday for a pre-planned meeting with the Chief of Staff and they discussed an array of issues, but I’m not aware if the President has spoken to him directly.
Has the President considered any preemptive pardons to any of his kids? Has he talking to attorney Giuliani about this?
Kayleigh McEnany: (11:18)
I’ve heard no mention of any pardons in any conversations I’ve had in the White House, other than the pardon of a Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, a three-star general who I’ve discussed from this podium before, who had his life ruined. He was a valiant hero who served his country, both on the battlefield and then came to work in government, and what happened to him was there was an FBI note that said they wanted to get Lieutenant General Michael Flynn to lie, there then was a criminal leak of his identity in a phone call he had. He was told no lawyers were needed in the discussion the FBI was having with him. FBI investigators then after said they did not just think that Lieutenant General Michael Flynn was lying, but yet he was still pursued in an unjust manner. And the government failed to provide the original FBI 302s from that interview. It was an egregious miscarriage of justice. And we’re finally glad that justice was served for a war hero, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. David.
Is the President planning to announce his 2024 candidacy in a formal event here at the White House before January 20th, or even on January 20th?
Kayleigh McEnany: (12:24)
I’ve not heard any discussions of that. I’m aware of the reporting, but the President’s campaign is currently pursuing active litigation and that is the focus at least at the moment.
You heard his comments last night. It sounds like he’s planning to run again. Do you know if that’s fact?
Kayleigh McEnany: (12:38)
I haven’t spoken to him about that. Again his campaign is pursuing litigation. I would redirect you to the campaign. Yeah. Yes.
Speaker 1: (12:44)
Frank Meadows has been meeting with Commissioner Hahn, what is being discussed? And also did the White House get a heads up that the UK was going to be approving the Pfizer vaccine?
Kayleigh McEnany: (12:54)
I do. I’m not aware of any heads up that we were given, but what I will say about Dr. Hahn is it is par for the course for the Chief of Staff to meet with him as we’re trying to save American lives with the vaccine in record time. In fact, two vaccines, not only a vaccine in record time, you heard Moncef Slaoui say a vaccine normally takes anywhere from four years to 25 years. He said that in an interview last week, and this was in 10 months, it’s remarkable progress, but we still want to make sure that it comes as fast, as expeditiously, but as safely as possible. Because we know by that each day that passes, there are more American lives at stake. So we want to make sure it comes out as quickly as the data allows it to. And we will have 40 million doses by the end of the year, which is a tremendous achievement. Not just to have gotten a vaccine in this time, but to have produced 40 million in advance. It’s having a business man as President. It’s the Trump vaccine. Yes, Justin.
Thanks. I have a couple of policy things, but first I just wanted to go back to what you said about personnel. Right before the election in a rally the President suggested that he might fire Dr. Fauci after the vote had happened. And so I was wondering if you could comment on what Dr. Fauci’s status is, if you have any?
Kayleigh McEnany: (14:06)
Yeah, I’ve heard no discussions of that. Dr. Fauci’s still hard at work on the task force.
And then there were two things that the President mentioned as policy goals that would happened before the election that we haven’t seen any sort of obvious progress on. So I wanted to check in on those. The first is the $200 Medicare prescription drug card that was to happen before the election. Seems to have sort of vanished. So I was wondering if you could give an update on that.
Kayleigh McEnany: (14:32)
Let me follow up with the Chief of Staff on that. I haven’t heard any current discussions about it, but I will follow up with you.
And then he had also promised an executive order on immigration that would protect DREAMers. Again he promised that before the election. Do you have any?
Kayleigh McEnany: (14:47)
He put forth many different immigration packages on HB 1 visas and others to protect American workers. I will circle back, but there were many iterations of immigration EOs prior to the election.
Is that work progressing at this point? Or are you sort of throwing in the towel?
Kayleigh McEnany: (15:02)
I think right now the focus is making sure that there is stimulus relief for Americans who are hurting right now. So that is the current active policy priority that we are working on moment by moment, along with COVID. Yes. Yes.
Speaker 2: (15:17)
Kayleigh as demonstrated by the large red ribbon outdoor on the White House, yesterday was World AIDS day. The President issued his proclamation yesterday, but consistent with his previous three proclamations, omitted to any reference to LGBTQ people, even though they bear the brunt of HIV AIDS. The President included a reference to racial and ethnic minorities so why not LGBTQ people?
Kayleigh McEnany: (15:37)
The President honored World AIDS day yesterday in a way that no president has before with the red ribbon there. And I think that he commemorated the day as he should have. Yes.
Speaker 2: (15:48)
That doesn’t explain why there was no reference to LGBTQ people in the proclamation.
Kayleigh McEnany: (15:50)
Charlotte, go ahead.
Thanks Kayleigh. I wanted to ask you about Section 330. Is President Trump willing to allow a government shut down over that and the national defense [inaudible 00:16:00]
Kayleigh McEnany: (16:01)
The President has made clear the importance-
Kayleigh McEnany: (16:03)
The president has made clear the importance of 230 and I would point you to his tweet about how that pertains to the NDAA. One thing I would say, when you look at 230, just to explain for the American public exactly what that is, it’s essentially a shield that is given to social media networks because they claim to be the public square. But in the case of Twitter, Twitter has become a publisher choosing to fact check certain content. And when you’re a publisher, there are certain responsibilities with that. You should not be immune from liability. And when you look at what Twitter has done, on the Ayatollah Khomeini, we were just looking at his Twitter account before coming out here. And just a few weeks ago, the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran tweeted, “Why is it a crime to raise doubts about the Holocaust?” Something not worthy of a flag by Twitter, which is despicable when you think about it.
Kayleigh McEnany: (16:54)
Also, the Ayatollah has tweeted that Israel is a deadly cancerous growth that should be uprooted and destroyed, something that Twitter did not deem worthy of flagging or blocking in its entirety. And in fact, Twitter executives defended that move in front of the Knesset. This is a very important issue. One that there’s even bipartisan agreement that something needs to be done. So the president will be unashamed in fighting against that kind of vitriol that we see and very hateful language that Twitter is publishing Kristen.
Thank you, Kayleigh. Just one more question about Section 230, the Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, he put out a statement essentially saying that these two things are not related, Section 230 and something as big and important for our national security as the NDAA. So I just want to be clear here, is President Trump seriously considering and talking about vetoing the NDAA over Section 230?
Kayleigh McEnany: (17:48)
Yes, the president is serious about it. And I noted when you have other world leaders that are making calls for genocide and Twitter not finding that worthy of flagging or blocking. Beyond that, you look at China who’s putting out disinformation. China tweeted out, I believe it was six days ago, I think it was November 25th, that COVID-19 did not originate in Wuhan, something that was not deemed worthy of flagging by Twitter. There are real grave concerns here and the president stands by that. And it also is worth noting that the president will always defend our military, ensure that we get adequate defense funding as he’s gotten $2.9 trillion so far, but he is going to put the pressure on Congress to step up on this.
And one more question about Attorney General Bill Barr’s comments. I believe you said that you’re not sure if President Trump and the attorney general have spoken since he made those comments, is that right?
Kayleigh McEnany: (18:38)
Yes, I’m not sure if they’ve spoken.
But can you at least tell me, was President Trump upset when he heard the attorney general say that he has not seen or the DOJ has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud enough to overturn the outcome of the election?
Kayleigh McEnany: (18:51)
I haven’t spoken with the president specifically about AG Barr or that comment. And I would also just point everyone to the revised or the supplemental, I should say, not revised comment that was put out by AG Barr in the wake of media reporting that seemed to misconstrue his statement. He said this, that some media outlets have… Not he, I should say, the DOJ spokesperson, some media outlets have incorrectly reported that the department has concluded its investigation of election fraud and announced an affirmative finding of no fraud, and that is not what the AP reported nor what the AG stated. And I think a lot of the media didn’t read beyond that one comment to the civil part versus the criminal part.
Well, I think maybe the discrepancy is you have members of the Trump campaign coming forward and saying that there is hard evidence of widespread voter fraud, enough to overturn the outcome of the election. And then you have the nation’s top law enforcement officer or the attorney general saying if there is, he hasn’t seen it.
Kayleigh McEnany: (19:50)
Well, the attorney general was speaking to what has come before his desk. And again, I’d point you to the campaign for specific questions on this, but I would just say generally they are pursuing civil litigation, which in fact, the attorney general explicitly said some of this has meant more for civil litigation, which is what the campaign is currently pursuing. Kevin.
Kayleigh, is the president seriously considering skipping the inauguration?
Kayleigh McEnany: (20:15)
I’ll leave that to the president to make his announcement. He tweeted something to the effect of he knows what his decision is and he’ll make his decision at the right time.
[inaudible 00:20:22] now could he possibly have for skipping?
Kayleigh McEnany: (20:24)
I’m not going to speculate on the president’s decision. I’ll leave that to him to announce it.
Just one follow up. There was a report yesterday on federal officials investigating a potential bribe for pardon scheme. Has anybody at the White House been questioned by federal law enforcement officials regarding potential bribes for a pardon?
Kayleigh McEnany: (20:48)
No. And in fact, the DOJ officials said yesterday that no government official was or is currently a subject or target of the investigation disclosed in his filing, yeah. Andrea.
Yeah. So thanks for taking my question. I wanted to ask about FBI Director Ray. It looks like President-elect Biden wants to keep him in the job. Does that change the president’s perspective on FBI Director Ray and does it retain full confidence in him? And I have just a quick follow up.
Kayleigh McEnany: (21:19)
Yeah. He’s made no assessments, at least in my presence, about that. And if we have any personal announcements, we’ll let you know.
Okay, great. And can I just follow up on the vaccine issue? You said 40 million doses. I recall the president saying, and perhaps even you saying that you were looking for a hundred million doses by the end of the year, that 40 million is quite a bit short. So can you just clarify that number?
Kayleigh McEnany: (21:44)
So there are currently six vaccines that we have identified as vaccines that we were hopeful would come to fruition, and with several of those, if not each of them, I can follow up with you on the exact number, we have manufacturing contracts. We have manufactured doses with several of these, but they have to come to completion. So with each new vaccine that comes along with that will come millions and millions of doses that have already been manufactured in time. But currently, of the four vaccines and phase three clinical trial, Moderna Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Janssen, two of those have gotten to the point of applying for an EUA. So really it’s incumbent on the manufacturer and those going through the phase three clinical trial to get that data to us and then it’s manufactured and ready to go.
Kayleigh McEnany: (22:32)
So the moment someone else gets to a 94% effectiveness rate or whatever the barometer is, we will have those doses, yes. Yes.
Speaker 2: (22:42)
Thanks, Kayleigh. Just two quick questions [inaudible 00:06:43]. Georgia officials have said election workers there are facing threats because of the president’s false claims about winning the state and his rhetoric throughout the election. Does the president condemned the threats against election workers or does he take any responsibility for [inaudible 00:00:22:57]?
Kayleigh McEnany: (22:58)
We condemn any threats against anyone. There’s no place for violence. What I will say though too is that the president’s lawyers, they were doxed by a left organization, their private information put out. So we’re seeing that happen to people on both sides of the argument and there’s no place for that ever anywhere.
And just real quick, the CDC director today said that the next few months could be among the worst public health months in American history. I wonder, does the White House, is it setting a good example for the public for the White House with in-person holiday parties at a time when the CDC and other organizations are asking Americans to forego those kinds of celebrations for their own safety?
Kayleigh McEnany: (23:40)
Yeah. So if you can loot businesses, burn down buildings, engage in protest, you can also go to a Christmas party. You can celebrate the holiday of Christmas and you can do it responsibly, which is why the East Wing has noted that they’ll have smaller guest lists, masks are going to be available, social distancing is going to be encouraged, hand sanitizing stations among other measures. But-
Kayleigh McEnany: (24:03)
… hand sanitizing stations among other measures, but we will engage in the celebration of Christmas, and there will be a Hanukah celebration as well. Yes. Yes, Meredith?
Thanks. Does President Trump, has he had any kind of conversations with allies on Capitol Hill about challenging Joe Biden’s electoral college vote with Congress? We saw one of his allies today said he plans to do that. Is that a conversation that the President’s had at all?
Kayleigh McEnany: (24:31)
Not that I’m aware of. Yness?
Yes, the White House Coronavirus Task Force is privately telling governors that Americans under the age of 40 who gathered with people outside their households at Thanksgiving are dangerous to others and should isolate immediately. Why is the White House not publicly sharing that same information with Americans?
Kayleigh McEnany: (24:52)
You said that was in a … what document was that?
The White House Coronavirus Task Force is privately telling governors.
Kayleigh McEnany: (24:58)
That those at Thanksgiving celebrations that-
[crosstalk 00:25:01] are under 40.
Kayleigh McEnany: (25:02)
There’s CDC guidance out there as to when you should and should not isolate. So I would point you to that. That’s all been publicly available since the beginning of all of this. Christian?
Thanks, Kayleigh. So if some version of the Defense Authorization makes it to the President’s desk, with language that terminates Section 230, would he sign it into law, even if there’s language in there that renames bases bearing Confederate names are named after Confederate officials?
Kayleigh McEnany: (25:29)
He’s said before, he’s very much against the Warren Amendment and public polling is with him on that. How that intersects with the 230 tweet, I will have to follow up with him about, I don’t know if that position has changed given what he tweeted recently, but I will follow up on that.
And then on China, Joe Biden told the times that he doesn’t want to roll back the China tariffs or the phase one trade deal. Do you know if the president plans on reaching out to Mr. Biden to talk about China trade, since it’s been such a hot policy issue? Or any other policy, really before January 20th?
Kayleigh McEnany: (26:07)
I’m not aware of any plans of that at the moment. But if I do, I’ll let you know. Yeah. Meredith?
You gave some examples of lawmakers who’ve been talking about COVID, but I am curious where has President Trump been in offering in public leadership on this topic of the coronavirus? Especially as we’ve seen cases surge, we haven’t seen the president making these sort of public comments or even tweets about this surge in cases. So I’m curious what sort of examples you have.
Kayleigh McEnany: (26:37)
Yeah, quite a bit. He’s created the greatest testing system in the world. He gave them a press conference about two weeks ago, I believe on the vaccine, which he has done at warp speed because he’s torn down bureaucratic barriers. He’s been hard at work. He’s done I don’t know how many coronavirus task force briefings from this podium, but the work he’s done speaks for itself.
Kayleigh McEnany: (26:58)
The fact that now the case fatality rate in this country is 2%. It was 6% in April. And what that means is it’s a testament to our therapeutics. Another thing that happened recently, in fact, mid-November got almost no attention, but it’s again, a testament to the president is the two new therapeutics, they are renditions of one is a monoclonal antibody. Another one is a Regeneron therapeutic. And these two therapeutics are given to people with mild to moderate COVID symptoms, that are at high risk for severe COVID or hospitalization. So the fact that we’ve got to the point where we now have therapeutics we can give you in advance to try to prevent you from going to a hospital. And we’ve sent out 169,000 vials of one and 36,000 vials of another, just in a few weeks. He’s hard at work at this, with the task force behind the scenes.
Kayleigh McEnany: (27:50)
And when we talk about his public leadership, just on COVID generally, I think it’s a fitting time given your question to note, Dr. Fauci now says that we should keep the schools open. He said that this Sunday. This something that the president has said for months, it caused me to go back to July and look at one of my briefing books from July 16th, 2020. And what I found in there was this, the science was always on our side about keeping schools open, way back in July. It’s being acknowledged now, but in July you had Dr. Redfield saying, unlike flu kids are not driving the transmission cycle. You had Dr. Atlas, who’s been a leading voice on keeping the schools open, “Saying everyone else in the Western world, our peer nations are doing it. We can do it.” This was back in July. We had a study from the Netherlands about few reports of infections from schools that had stayed open.
Kayleigh McEnany: (28:42)
This was back in July. You had a Yale School of Public Health professor named Albert Co saying that the bottom line is the impact of COVID-19 on children is minimal or very low compared to other groups. There was a Lancet quote to that same effect. This was back in July, when the president was saying, “Keep the schools open. I’m looking at the science. It’s detrimental to keep kids out of school.” But what were Democrats saying? When the president was following the science, here’s what Democrats were saying. You had Governor Gavin Newsom say this, “I’m not taking pressure from Trump on opening schools.” You had Governor Cuomo saying, “It’s not up to the president.” About opening schools at schools were shut down. You had Mayor De Blasio who interestingly reversed himself this week, and now kids can go back to school. But back in July, when the science was on our side, he was saying, “What we won’t do is ignore the science and recklessly charge ahead like our president.” Who was always following the science.
Kayleigh McEnany: (29:34)
You had Jennifer Rubin tweeting that, “Now he wants to kill your kids.” I’m not sure how that’s responsible reporting. And then you had Anderson Cooper saying that, “He actually just doesn’t care about kids at all, nor the health of their teachers and parents.” And you had the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association railing against the president as well. The president’s followed the science. He’s also kept in mind we have a constitution and he will be unashamed and always advocating for the science and the best interests of the children in this country. Thank you very much.