Sep 16, 2020
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany White House Press Conference Transcript September 16
September 16 press conference with White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. She discussed herd immunity, TikTok, and President Donald Trump’s response to coronavirus. Read her full White House news briefing transcript here.
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Kayleigh McEnany: (00:00)
Good afternoon everyone. I just spoke with the president and he wanted to thank the commissioner of Big 10 Football Kevin Warren and all of the players, parents, coaches, and fans who wanted more than anything to play football. The president was happy to get this thing going and now you will have players in Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Mississippi and Nebraska who will now have access to football which is very good to see.
Kayleigh McEnany: (00:36)
Transitioning to a much more somber topic and one that is very important to the president, I want to talk a little bit about our police officers. 14 months ago, two deputies with the Los Angeles Police Department were sworn in to protect and serve their community. This past Saturday, these two deputies were ambushed. While sitting in their patrol car in Compton, California, a suspect approached the passenger side window, took aim and fired multiple shots at point blank range into the patrol car. “I have been shot, send help,” begged one of the deputies over 911. This was a cowardly, brazen and unprovoked attack against law enforcement. One of the deputies attacked was a 31-year-old mother of a six-year-old boy. She was seen on security footage attending to the wounds of her partner despite being shot in the jaw and arm herself. She is a true hero. Rushed to the hospital, these two deputies were targeted yet again. The L.A. County Sheriffs tweeted this, “To the protesters blocking the entrance and exit of the hospital emergency room, yelling, “We hope they die,”” referring to two L.A. sheriffs ambushed today in Compton, they said this, “Do not block emergency entries and exits to the hospital. People’s lives are at stake.” Truly despicable behavior from those protesters.
Kayleigh McEnany: (02:01)
People’s lives are indeed at stake. It is truly “a double miracle” as the Los Angeles sheriff Alex Villanueva described it that these two deputies are alive today. Targeting a police officer is an assault against your community. It is an assault against law and order. It is antithetical to what we value as Americans. We all remember the disastrous impact of the Ferguson effect. We do not want to see a repeat today. Defund the police is not just dangerous policy, it is a poisonous ideology. We must respect our police, not revolt against them. In the past 24 hours alone, we’ve seen law enforcement targeted across the country. This is in 24 hours. In Phoenix, a U.S. Marshal was ambushed and shot outside a federal courthouse in a drive-by shooting. In Lynwood, California a suspect approached a patrol car and fired a handgun into the passenger side window. In Suffolk, Virginia, a suspect opened fire on a marked police car, hitting the vehicle three times. This is within 24 hours.
Kayleigh McEnany: (03:06)
These acts are despicable. Rhetoric such as defund the police is likely to have negative consequences for law enforcement across the country, threatening the safety of our communities. As Los Angeles Sheriff Villanueva warned, “The ambush in Compton is a “sober reminder” it’s a dangerous job. Actions, words, have consequences,” he said. “Our job does not get any easier because people do not like law enforcement. It pisses me off,” he said. “It dismays me at the same time. There is no pretty way to say it.”
Kayleigh McEnany: (03:38)
The president wants law and order which is the best way to ensure peace on our streets, and he wants our police to be respected and protected, and with that, I’ll take questions. Yes, [inaudible 00:03:48].
Speaker 2: (03:47)
Kayleigh, thank you so much. I have two questions if you don’t mind. The first one is about masks. This morning, CDC Director Robert Redfield testified that masks are more guaranteed to protect people from COVID than a vaccine. Last night the president continued to question their use so why is he sending mixed messages about something that doctors say can save lives?
Kayleigh McEnany: (04:11)
The president has always supported mask wearing and he’s made many comments to that effect from this podium. Yesterday he was pointing to a quote that even Dr. Fauci has noted which is that a mask can have unintended consequences. While we support wearing them and it’s patriotic to do so, the unintended consequences can be inappropriate usage, touching the mask and then going on and touching something else so the president very vividly described that unintended consequence that can come if not worn appropriately.
Speaker 2: (04:40)
Secondly on September 3, you said, “The herd immunity so-called theory was something made up by the fanciful minds of the media. That was never something that was ever considered here at the White House,” but last night the president said that the country would eventually achieve herd mentality. I believe he meant immunity to explain how the virus would “go away”. So did the White House shift its position about this in the past two weeks since you made those comments and what is the position about using it as a strategy?
Kayleigh McEnany: (05:12)
Herd immunity has never been a strategy here at the White House. The president last night was noting herd immunity is over a period of time, a country, a society can reach herd immunity. It’s a fact, it was not a strategy ever presented here at the White House and in fact he went on in that very same exchange to say with the vaccine this will go away very quickly noting our strategy is to get a vaccine and we will do so at the fastest rate for a novel pathogen.
Speaker 2: (05:39)
So he doesn’t agree with Dr. Atlas’ view that everyone should just catch it and then we’ll move on?
Kayleigh McEnany: (05:45)
That’s not Dr. Atlas’ view. Dr. Atlas, I am with him every day. He has never proposed herd immunity as a strategy nor has the president. John.
A couple of other questions on COVID if I could. Have any members of the White House staff recently tested positive for coronavirus?
Kayleigh McEnany: (06:00)
I don’t share people’s personal medical information.
But we have heard in the past when that has been the case. Why the change?
Kayleigh McEnany: (06:08)
I’ve seen the reporting out there but again I’m not here to give people’s personal identities. In the past when I’ve discussed a case unfortunately that individual’s name was leaked to the media.
Okay, secondly, something else that Dr. Redfield said was that while some people in high risk categories may receive a vaccine by the end of the year, it would likely not be until the end of the second quarter or the third quarter before vaccinations were widely available. Is the president okay with that timeline or does he want to see a vaccine more widely available earlier than that?
Kayleigh McEnany: (06:39)
We’re still of the belief that we will have a vaccine by the end of the year. Operation Warp Speed has made it clear that their goal is to have more than 100 million doses we’re manufacturing in advance to make that a possibility –
[inaudible 00:06:53] that but it was the idea of the vaccine being more widely available, like a flu vaccine, not until possibly next summer or maybe even early fall.
Kayleigh McEnany: (07:03)
We do believe that it will be widely available by the end of the year. It’s why we’ve partnered with Sanofi, GSK, Pfizer and now Johnson & Johnson with the billion dollar contracts to manufacture 100 million doses so we still feel that we are on the right timeline.
When you say widely available, do you mean to everyone or just people at high risk groups?
Kayleigh McEnany: (07:21)
I’m not going to engage in a hypothetical but it’s our goal to have at least 100 million in production by the end of the year. Yes.
I have two questions. You said that the president was talking about wearing a mask improperly last night, touching it, referring to what Dr. Fauci has said, but he said “There are people that don’t think masks are good.” That’s clearly not what the CDC Director thinks since he said today that, “Masks are an important, powerful public health tool we have. They could be even more protective against COVID than a vaccine.” So have any medical experts told the president that masks aren’t good or is he only citing non-medical experts like he did last night?
Kayleigh McEnany: (07:58)
He’s referring to the fact that when used appropriately, they can have unintended consequences much like Dr. Fauci said, it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is and oftentimes there are unintended consequences. So the president agrees with Dr. Fauci that mask wearing is good, it’s recommended. The president has continually recommended it from his podium but he was just pointing out some of the unintended consequences if not used appropriately.
He didn’t say that. He just said there are people who thinks masks are –
Kayleigh McEnany: (08:24)
No he did. Go on, do you have his whole exchange, would you like to read it out?
I mean I watched it last night.
Kayleigh McEnany: (08:28)
He went and talked about –
He said there are people who don’t think masks are good. He didn’t say inappropriately or anything like that, that’s what I’m saying.
Kayleigh McEnany: (08:33)
[Katelyn 00:08:33], he went on in a very … Unfortunately, a bunch of you are very keen on doing selective editing of the president’s quotes and not referring to the second half. Directly under that statement, he talked about a waiter touching the mask then touching a plate and that being an unintended effect of wearing a mask. That is an example of the mask not being used appropriately.
[inaudible 00:08:52] masks are good but [inaudible 00:08:53]
Kayleigh McEnany: (08:54)
He describes the exact scenario in which a mask can have an unintended consequence if not used appropriately and we can send you the clip, we’ll put it up on Twitter.
No I watched it. It’s okay. I just wanted to see if there’s any medical experts who have said that.
Kayleigh McEnany: (09:06)
They have and I just read Dr. Fauci’s quote so go ahead.
Yes, I’ve read Dr. Fauci’s quote. On the healthcare plan, the chief of staff today said that there is going to be one unveiled before the election, one that the president has been promising for over a year now, long before then. But today on Capitol Hill, the three top medical experts in this administration said they have no idea of any kind of plan that’s being formulated. So who is it that is working on the healthcare plan that’s going to be introduced before the election?
Kayleigh McEnany: (09:34)
So here at the White House, we have a wide array of people working on it. There have been elements of it that have already come out like the telemedicine plan, the drug importation EO, the most favored nations were elements of what is an overarching plan. There’s more that will be forthcoming and in aggregate it’s going to be a very comprehensive strategy, one where we’re saving healthcare while Democrats are trying to take healthcare away, where we’re making healthcare better and cheaper, guaranteeing protections for people with pre-existing conditions, stopping surprise medical billing and increasing transparency, defending the right to keep your doctor and your plan, fighting lobbyists and special interests and making healthier and finding cures to diseases and those are the principles that will animate –
[inaudible 00:10:23] is my question.
Kayleigh McEnany: (10:23)
Multiple stakeholders here at the White House who work on policy, so our Domestic Policy Council and others –
Kayleigh McEnany: (10:29)
Are working on a healthcare plan. Yes.
Not the CDC Director? Not [inaudible 00:10:33]? Not Admiral Giroir? None of them have any idea about the healthcare –
Kayleigh McEnany: (10:36)
I’m not going to give you a readout of what our healthcare plan looks like and who’s working on it. If you want to know, come work here at the White House. Yes.
I just wanted to know who’s working on it.
Kayleigh McEnany: (10:44)
Yes. Stakeholders here in the White House and as I told you our domestic policy council and others in the White House are working on a healthcare plan. The president’s vision for the next five years. Yes, and if you want more, come join us here. Yes.
That’s not the point why I asked the question, I think you know that.
Kayleigh McEnany: (11:00)
Okay, I called on you four times so who … Mario, go ahead.
Thanks Kayleigh. When should we expect the president to make a decision on TikTok and to what degree is that decision delayed by just disagreement among his senior advisors?
Kayleigh McEnany: (11:13)
Yes, so we’ll have a decision here in short order. I’m not going to get too far into it because I don’t want to get ahead of the president but obviously we care deeply about protecting the data and security of American citizens. Yes.
Speaker 6: (11:26)
Thank you Kayleigh. Two questions, one is is about vaccines, some people within the Trump administration indicate that there might be a vaccine within a few weeks. Right now we’re all being tested for COVID. Are you going to require that we be vaccinated to enter the White House complex?
Kayleigh McEnany: (11:45)
I’m not going to get ahead of any hypothetical. Right now we’re hard at work at actually getting the vaccine and then plans for distribution will be determined thereafter. There were some guidelines put out today to that effect about how they’ll be distributed by HHS and DOD.
Speaker 6: (12:00)
Okay, okay, and also, one thing is that Bob Woodward said that the president’s response to COVID was “a monumental, catastrophic leadership failure, that this is a tragedy for Trump and for the country.” What is your response to that?
Kayleigh McEnany: (12:14)
That it’s absolutely preposterous and absurd. Look at the facts, look at the data, look at the fact that Europe for instance has experienced a 28% higher excess mortality rate than the United States. Look at the fact that we have one of the lowest case fatalities in the world. Look at the fact that from scratch we developed the largest and most advanced testing system in the entire world testing more than every country in Europe put together and more than every nation in the Western Hemisphere combined. Look at the fact that we have three vaccines in Phase III clinical trial. That is a historic response, mobilizing the private sector to the greatest degree since World War II. This president has broken through barriers. He’s a businessman, he’s the commander in chief, he’s the leader of the country and he has done a phenomenal job to quote none other than Governor Andrew Cuomo. Yes.
Speaker 6: (13:05)
[inaudible 00:13:05] colleague finish. Can I ask my question?
Kayleigh McEnany: (13:07)
No, I’m not going to reward not speaking up and asking your question. Go ahead. Anyone else? Yes.
Speaker 7: (13:14)
Speaker 6: (13:15)
Thanks. The president said on Twitter that Republicans should go for a much higher number when it comes to the stimulus. What did he mean by that exactly and has he spoken to Senator McConnell or Speaker Pelosi about what number he has in mind?
Kayleigh McEnany: (13:28)
Yeah, so what the president was referring to was the $500 billion bill that passed the Senate, the Phase IV plan that didn’t include … Excuse me, it got 50 votes in the Senate. It’s that $500 billion skinny proposal, but it didn’t include direct payments. So he wants more than the $500 billion and he is very keen to say these direct stimulus payments and we hope that Nancy Pelosi will work with us in good faith. There are many bipartisan proposals out there that have merit and a clear example of where Nancy stands is that everyone wants to be in D.C. seems to want to make a deal except Nancy Pelosi. She wants to play politics. Look at the letter she wrote condemning the Problem Solvers Group proposal, that was a $1.5 trillion plan that if the priorities were modified and made sure that there was not bailout, that bailed out states that didn’t have COVID-related issues, that just were blanket bailouts to blue states, that’s something that we would entertain and look at but Nancy Pelosi immediately decried that proposal in a letter because she’s not interested in a deal. Yes.
Speaker 7: (14:33)
Kayleigh, could I just ask really briefly, following up on Mario’s question. Trump has said that he wants to see TikTok’s U.S. operations being sold to a U.S. company and our reporting suggests that under proposals submitted to CFIUS, ByteDance would retain a majority stake in TikTok. So does the president still want TikTok to be sold to a U.S. company or is he now okay with TikTok potentially remaining under Chinese ownership?
Kayleigh McEnany: (14:59)
Yeah, this is an ongoing negotiation and I’m not going to offer any further comment beyond any of the president’s public remarks. Yes.
Speaker 8: (15:05)
Thanks Kayleigh. I pulled up I think that quote that you were talking about. The president said last night, “They come over, they serve you,” he’s talking about waiters, “And they have a mask. I saw it the other day where they were serving me. They were playing with the mask, I’m not blaming them, I’m just saying it happens,” and then he starts talking about Dr. Fauci. My question is why is he quoting Dr. Fauci’s guidance from five months ago instead of what the head of the CDC in the Senate today on masks?
Kayleigh McEnany: (15:28)
Well both propositions he agrees with and thank you very much for reading the second part of the quote. First, he agrees with the consensus that mask wearing is important and recommended. I have here and I’ll make sure you all get a copy all of the times he’s said that from this podium and I can read them but it would probably bore you. He’s called it patriotic to wear a mask but he also recognizes that masks need to be worn appropriately, which is the point Dr. Fauci was making. He was making that point in March but it was an important point to make, that we should all wear our masks appropriately. Yes.
Speaker 8: (15:57)
And then it’s totally unrelated but Roger Stone said on a radio show the other day, he said U.S. Marshals should seize the ballots in Nevada on Election Day because he’s called it corrupted. Is that something the president is comfortable with, using federal power to seize ballots during the count?
Kayleigh McEnany: (16:10)
I have not spoken to him about that nor do I think he’s ever seen those comments. Yes.
Speaker 9: (16:15)
Yes, if you’ll allow me, I have a question from a colleague that’s on the cooler today and then I’d like to ask my own. From a colleague, “In lifting tariffs on Canadian aluminum, thee USTR announced yesterday it would review shipment levels six weeks after the end of September, a timeline that extends beyond the election. Was the president worried that those tariffs and the anticipated retaliatory action from Canada would endanger his re-election chances?”
Kayleigh McEnany: (16:43)
I have not spoken to the president about Canadian tariffs. I haven’t followed up on that matter. What was your other question?
Speaker 9: (16:49)
The second one is does the president have any evidence to back up his suggestions that Joe Biden is a pedophile or taking drugs, and without such evidence, if he’s simply speculating, why should the public trust him on anything else?
Kayleigh McEnany: (17:03)
I’d have to refer you to the campaign. I’m not here to talk about Joe Biden. Yes.
Speaker 10: (17:07)
Thank you Kayleigh. With Hurricane Sally making landfall in Alabama and hitting the Florida panhandle, a couple of questions here related to that. Has the president spoken directly to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis or any of the other governors affected by this storm and at the same time has the federal government made any changes to its programs since Hurricane Michael [inaudible 00:17:30] the way it communicates with the state of Florida?
Kayleigh McEnany: (17:32)
Yeah, I haven’t asked the president about who he’s called specifically. I know the White House, I’ve spoken with IGA, I know the White House has certainly been in contact and the Chief of Staff, but in terms of the hurricane, this president is engaging in an important response. FEMA is active, we have high water rescue teams, IMAT teams, disaster medical assistance, generators, 1.8 million meals, 1.5 million bottles of water and as FEMA Administrator Gaynor has said we are coordinating with the states right now, we have a significant footprint in Louisiana because of Hurricane Laura so we are well-postured, we’re leaning into it to make sure that we meet all the needs of all three of those states.
Speaker 11: (18:14)
Are you aware though of any changes since Hurricane Michael that are being applied to this specific response?
Kayleigh McEnany: (18:20)
I have not looked at changes with hurricane response but this president knows how to respond and will do so and protect the men and women of those three states.
Speaker 11: (18:28)
If I may, I also have the transcript from last night. I just wanted to ask you about one other line and get clarification. The president did say, “There are a lot of people that think masks are not good.” Who are the people he’s referring to, the lot of people?
Kayleigh McEnany: (18:42)
He was meaning that there are people who think they’re not good when not used appropriately as I’ve mentioned several times in this briefing. Yes.
Speaker 12: (18:49)
Thank you Kayleigh. Two questions if I may. One I suppose has to be a hypothetical but if someone who was at the ceremony the other day for the signing of the accords tested positive for coronavirus subsequently, would everyone who was present at the signing of the accords be notified through contact tracing?
Kayleigh McEnany: (19:14)
We do contact tracing so close contacts are always notified.
Speaker 12: (19:18)
Secondly, on the stimulus questions, where are you on additional assistance for airlines and maybe more of the pandemic unemployment insurance since both of those things are urgent priorities and it doesn’t look like Congress is going to act. What’s the president prepared to do on both of those issues?
Kayleigh McEnany: (19:40)
The president has mentioned previously that he wanted to take a good look at airlines and help where he can. Of course we need Congress in a lot of this. He’s always made clear that his big priority, number one is unemployed Americans and Americans who have been hurt by this pandemic. His EO really clarified his priorities, the four EOs on eviction and the payroll tax which helps low and middle income Americans primarily and unemployment insurance and student loan debt relief. That’s his priority, unlike Nancy Pelosi who took a vacation and went to a hair salon when the men and women of San Francisco did not have the access that she did.
Speaker 12: (20:19)
Can I follow up on payroll taxes? Actually [inaudible 00:20:21] did mention payroll taxes. Is the president disappointed with the large number of employers who are not taking up him and the Treasury secretary on the payroll tax deferral?
Kayleigh McEnany: (20:33)
The president believes that companies should take him up on that. He has always said that he’s interested in giving a payroll tax forgiveness for those who do participate because it’s very important that those making less than $100,000.00 have this relief at this time.
Speaker 13: (20:51)
Hi Kayleigh, thank you. I got two questions if I may. One, [inaudible 00:20:56] delegations of healthcare abuse in ICE detention centers?
Kayleigh McEnany: (21:01)
Yeah, I have not followed up on that. I have to refer you to DHS. I did see that report just before coming out here but I refer you to DHS.
Speaker 13: (21:08)
Okay, another question. A new survey showed that the image of the U.S. in the world is the worst in 20 years and President Trump is less trusted than Putin or Xi Jinping after COVID response. So why do you think many countries don’t trust President Trump right now?
Kayleigh McEnany: (21:27)
Look, this president has led the greatest response to COVID, I’ve already walked through how well we’re doing vis-a-vis the rest of the world. Also worth noting, U.S., we had the smallest economic contraction of any major Western country in the first half of the year. Also want to note that in 2019, real median household income grew by more, this is last year alone. Real median household income grew by more than all eight years of Obama-Biden and in 2019, so last year, real median household income for African-Americans rose 8% and that is more than double the gains of Obama-Biden in eight years. So this president has led economically, he has led on COVID and when you look at what he did just yesterday with these landmark peace agreements that haven’t been done in a quarter of a century but President Trump made it happen. He is a great diplomat, a great peacemaker, and I think him being nominated for two Nobel Prizes says it all. Yes.
Speaker 14: (22:25)
Yes, just can I ask you on the great success story you’ve talked about about COVID. In the richest country in the world, you have 4% of the global population and 24% of the coronavirus deaths. How is that a success story?
Kayleigh McEnany: (22:40)
Yeah, when you look at again, Europe has 28% higher excess mortality rate –
Speaker 14: (22:46)
[inaudible 00:22:46] numbers that I’m giving you which is 4% of the population, 24% of the deaths from COVID. How can that be a success?
Kayleigh McEnany: (22:55)
Yeah, and I’m giving you the numbers that we believe are very indicative of where we stand vis-a-vis the rest of the world. Excess mortality is an indicator that takes into account the percent deaths above what would occur without a pandemic. It accounts the excess mortality and what we see is that we are 28% –
Speaker 14: (23:14)
What about the numbers I gave?
Kayleigh McEnany: (23:16)
Under Europe. You have to look at this holistically. You have to look at total and aggregate, how many deaths have occurred in this country and compare that to Europe and the excess mortality rate and case fatality and testing. We have exceeded in our response and this president is very proud of the great work that this administration has done. Yes.
Speaker 15: (23:36)
Yeah. Is Michael Caputo welcome back after his 60 day leave after urging his followers on Facebook to stock up on ammunition?
Kayleigh McEnany: (23:43)
I’m not going to weigh into any personnel matters as you know. He has taken a leave of absence. That was announced just before I came out here but what I will weigh into is the Middle East peace deal signed yesterday that I did not receive a single question about. That was the first time it’s happened in a quarter of a century. If Obama and Biden had achieved this, it would look a lot different. You wouldn’t have Chuck Todd saying he’s uncomfortable with the deal that brings peace between the United Arab Emirates and Israel and Bahrain. You wouldn’t have CBS calling it “a business deal” and you wouldn’t have Nancy Pelosi calling it a distraction. Maybe it’s a distraction from her visits to the hair salon but those were significant agreements, first time in a quarter of a century, three peace deals in 29. Took 26 years for the prior two peace deals so the Nobel Peace Prize nomination for the president, two of them, very well-deserved. Thank you.
Speaker 16: (24:39)
Kayleigh, if he’s a law and order president, why does he keep breaking –