Sep 9, 2020
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany White House Press Conference Transcript September 9
September 9 press conference with White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. She discussed President Trump’s nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize. Read her full White House news briefing transcript here.
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Kayleigh McEnany: (00:03)
Hello everyone today, President Trump was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his work in brokering in Israel, the United Arab Emirates Peace Deal. It was a historic deal and the first such deal in over two decades. This is a hard earned and well-deserved honor for this president.
Kayleigh McEnany: (00:23)
President Trump’s foreign policy will always be one of peace through strength. And that is what the American people are seeing abroad. Career politicians merely talk about the kind of results this president has achieved on the world’s stage. End endless wars, we hear that often. Not too often do we see it actually done. Today the president and the Pentagon, the Department of Defense are announcing a draw down of troops in Iraq just announced from 5,200 to 3000. We are getting our allies to pay their fair share. Now nine NATO countries are meeting their 2% spending obligations.
Kayleigh McEnany: (01:00)
We’ve secured better trade deals for the American worker. President Trump negotiated the US MCA. The US South Korea Deal, ended the transpacific partnership, brought back manufacturing jobs. President Trump has stood up to China. The phase one China deal also tariffs to hold China accountable and actions to block Huawei. President Trump’s also defeated terrorists. The ISIS caliphate is destroyed. Al-Baghdadi is no longer on the battlefield, along with Iranian General, Soleimani.
Kayleigh McEnany: (01:29)
In addition to these priorities, President Trump has made peace a cornerstone of his recent foreign policy efforts. The peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates led to the first flight from Israel over Saudi Arabia’s airspace to the United Arab Emirates. The signing ceremony for this historic deal will be September 15th at the White House. President Trump has also brokered economic normalization between Serbia and Kosovo, a major breakthrough in this decades old conflict.
Kayleigh McEnany: (01:58)
It’s a fact, President Trump has broken the 39 year old streak of American presidents either starting a war or bringing the United States into an international armed conflict as a great Washington Examiner piece headline read. These wins are possible because of the president’s leadership and outsider perspective. President Trump addresses old challenges with new solutions and delivers results for the American people. And with that, I’ll take questions. Paula.
Kayleigh, thank you. I’d like to ask you about the Woodward interviews. Did President Trump intentionally mislead the American people about the threat of COVID, a pandemic that has now cost the lives of nearly 200,000 Americans?
Kayleigh McEnany: (02:38)
Absolutely not. This president, at a time when you’re facing insurmountable challenges, it’s important to express confidence. It’s important to [crosstalk 00:02:48] express calm-
Always play it down. Is playing it down, is that expressing calm? It seems dishonest. It seems like a lie.
Kayleigh McEnany: (02:54)
Can you read the rest of the quote?
That’s how much they put in there.
Kayleigh McEnany: (02:57)
Oh. You excluded the last part.
[inaudible 00:02:59] on 60 Minutes [crosstalk 00:03:00] Do you deny that he misled the American people about the threat of this pandemic?
Kayleigh McEnany: (03:01)
Please do explain, please. Of course, I deny that. And he makes clear that he doesn’t want to see chaos, by the way, is the second part of the quote, which you failed to read. The president just days after having this discussion with Bob Woodward said this from this podium on March 30th. He said, “I do want them to stay calm. We are doing a great job. If you look at the individual statements, they’re all true. Stay calm, it will go away, but it’s important to stay calm.”
Kayleigh McEnany: (03:26)
So this president does what leaders do; good leaders. It’s stay calm and resolute at a time when you face an insurmountable challenge. That’s what this president has done. [crosstalk 00:03:34]
-will not appear that the president lied to the American public about the threat posed by COVID?
Kayleigh McEnany: (03:38)
The president has never lied to the American public on COVID. The president was expressing calm and his actions reflect that. On January 6th, the CDC issued a Wuhan travel notice before any confirmed US cases, among a number of other actions. And I’d refer you to Dr. Fauci, who said that, “This president has an impressive response. I can’t imagine under any circumstance that anyone could be doing anything more.” That is the record of this president. John.
Kayleigh, how do you square the president’s words to Woodward when he said, “This is a very delicate one, it’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu. This is deadly stuff.” And then just two weeks after he told Woodward that, he said, “This is a flu, this is like a flu.” And then of course he also said it was going to quickly go to zero. But that seems to be in direct contradiction to what he told Woodward.
Kayleigh McEnany: (04:30)
Well, the president was listening to his medical experts because you also have at the same time period, Dr. Fauci, who said this. Asked if the seasonal flu was a bigger concern, he said this on February 17th. “So right now at the same time, people are worrying about going to a Chinese restaurant. The threat is that we have in this country, we’re having a pretty bad influenza season, particularly dangerous for our children.”
Kayleigh McEnany: (04:51)
So he was reflecting that point. And again, days later in a briefing, he said, “The statements I made are this, I want to keep the country calm.” That is what leaders do and that’s what President Trump does.
In that statement, Fauci’s not comparing the two. He’s not saying coronavirus is like the flu.
Kayleigh McEnany: (05:06)
It was a COVID interview and he was asked about seasonal flu, vis-a-vis COVID, saying exactly what the president said. And in fact, the president is taking it more seriously because on the tape, he noted that flu could be worse and he was taking action to address it. Once again, context matters that zero reported COVID cases, the CDC was implementing public health screenings, House Dems were preparing to file their first briefs and impeachment. When there was one reported case, the CDC was activating an emergency operation center while Pelosi was releasing a statement criticizing McConnell over impeachment.
Kayleigh McEnany: (05:39)
On January 31st, the president issued a travel ban on China. One that the former vice president called xenophobic. That’s what Democrats were doing while this president was acting and his actions reflect the seriousness with which he took COVID-19. Yes, Geoff.
Kayleigh, you quoted Dr. Fauci. Dr. Fauci has also apparently on the record saying of President Trump that, “His attention span is like a minus number and his sole purpose is to get reelected.” That’s according to a veteran journalist, Bob Woodward. I think the bottom line here, is that the president by his own admission, in private, on the record, acknowledged the depth of this crisis, and yet told the American people something very different. How is that at its core, not an abject betrayal of the public trust?
Kayleigh McEnany: (06:20)
The president has always been clear eyed with the American people. He was always clear eyed about the lives we could lose. Again, from this podium, he acknowledged that this was serious back in March, that 100,000, 200,000 lives could be lost. And with regard to Dr. Fauci, you’re referring to a quote he allegedly told Bob Woodward, and I can give you quotes that we can all play on loop and video of him saying that his response was impressive and he can’t imagine anyone under any circumstance doing anything better.
Kayleigh McEnany: (06:46)
Dr. Fauci saying this, “I can just tell you the president of the first and only time I went and said, ‘You need to do mitigation strongly.’ The response was, ‘Yes, we will do it.’ The second time I went with Dr. Burks to the president and said, 15 days to slow the spread are not enough. We need to go to 30 days. Obviously, there were a lot of people who had problems with that because of potential secondary effects. Nonetheless, the president went with the health recommendations.”
Kayleigh McEnany: (07:09)
There’s a long litany of praise from Dr. Fauci and you’re referencing something he allegedly told Bob Woodward.
It’s on tape, it’s on tape, Kayleigh. [crosstalk 00:07:16].
Kayleigh McEnany: (07:17)
I’m reading to you what Dr. Fauci has said very publicly for all to see, and we can all play those video clips. I can get them in your inbox. [crosstalk 00:07:24] Yes, Zeke.
-February 7th said, “It’s deadly stuff,” about coronavirus in private, on the record. In public though, February 28th, he says, “One day it’s like a miracle. It will disappear.” It’s one thing as a public figure not to try to incite panic. It’s a very different thing respectfully, to lie and mislead the American people about a crisis that has claimed nearly 200,000 American lives.
Kayleigh McEnany: (07:48)
No one is lying to the American people. One day COVID will go away. I think we can all hope for that day. We will have a vaccine because of this president tearing through bureaucracy to get a safe and effective vaccine. One day, it will go away. That is a fact. It is not inciting fear. This president has expressed calmness from this podium, mobilized the greatest mobilization of the private sector since World War II, got more tests than any country in the world on COVID, a vaccine, which by the way, it will be a record for a novel pathogen, the timing of this vaccine, should we get it by the end of the year, or should we get it even three years, which was the timing of Ebola.
Kayleigh McEnany: (08:23)
This president has done an unprecedented job dealing with COVID and one that Dr. Fauci even acknowledged. And like I said, I will get you that clip to your inbox. [crosstalk 00:08:31] Yes.
Hey Kayleigh, you mentioned a few minutes ago that this was an insurmountable problem. I think that’s quite a point of dispute. If you look around the world, the United States leads the world in confirmed cases, in deaths from COVID-19. Doesn’t the president have to bear responsibility for that record, as well as the testing and the vaccine development that you’re just talking about?
Kayleigh McEnany: (08:53)
No, when you’ve looked at the rest of the world, in particular, the case fatality rate in the United States is about 3%. The world is 3.3%. The UK, 11.9% France, 8.8%. Belgium, 11.2. And you can go through the various Western world countries that have dealt with COVID. And we’ve done a very good job, the case fatality rate notes that, and that’s a testament to our therapeutics, that the president has navigated.
The US is still it’s still [crosstalk 00:00:09:18].
Kayleigh McEnany: (09:18)
The case fatality rate is the metric that shows how well our response has done with therapeutics. And we are leading the world in having the lowest case fatality rate. It’s a very important metric and one that’s a testament once again, to a president who ripped through barriers, getting us Remdesivir, convalescent plasma, and other very good working therapeutics. [crosstalk 00:09:37]
Maybe the president is very focused on the response, there. Why did the president have thousands of people, many not wearing masks, et cetera, at a rally last night in [inaudible 00:09:47]? In a state that has limited outdoor gatherings to 50 people, why is he going to Nevada this weekend to hold similar outdoor rallies of [inaudible 00:09:57] of people in violation of his administration’s own guidance and of the best advice and guidance of local officials who he said should have the final say in these matters?
Kayleigh McEnany: (10:07)
People will have a first amendment right. If they so choose to show up and express their political opinion in the form of a peaceful protest, which is what the president held. And there’s a real double standard here. CNN had on a guest, apparently a doctor, Rob Davidson, who said, “Now true, there are social distancing issues with regard to the protest we’ve seen around the country. However, this is a public health crisis. They are marching against systemic racism.”
Kayleigh McEnany: (10:32)
So if you’re allowed to March in aggregate in those protests, you are also allowed to show up at a political rally. You have a first amendment right in this country.
But the president has a responsibility to keep people safe.
Kayleigh McEnany: (10:40)
Thank you, Kayleigh. How can a president bear no responsibility for the almost 200,000 lives lost, when he downplayed the virus initially and he knew how contagious and deadly it was? I don’t understand how that can-
Kayleigh McEnany: (10:56)
The president never downplayed the virus. Once again, the president expressed calm. The president was serious about this when Democrats were pursuing their sham impeachment. He was expressing calm and he was taking early action and his actions are reflective of how seriously he took COVID.
The tack that he took, the language that he used. You said that he used hopeful language. Does he regret that given where we are now?
Kayleigh McEnany: (11:18)
No. This president embodied the American spirit, that when we face a challenge, a crisis, a pandemic, we come together, we can be optimistic. We can be serious about it. We can take it seriously with our actions, which is exactly what this president does. It’s why we lead the world in testing, doing far more than the number two, which is India. He took this seriously, but he still expressed calm.
Kayleigh McEnany: (11:42)
Our food supply chains were at risk that we could not have mass runs on grocery stores. The markets, also, the economy was in play here. We didn’t want there to be a huge crass in panic. He expressed calmness from this podium, but he has always taken it seriously. And the response, an unprecedented response really reflects that. Yes.
Speaker 7: (12:03)
Thanks, Kayleigh. I wanted to ask you about the AstraZeneca trial. So does that throw a spanner in the works that they’ve halted those trials in terms of getting a vaccine quickly? And then, I have a follow-up.
Kayleigh McEnany: (12:16)
Yeah, so the AstraZeneca paused their trials. Phase three clinical trial was a routine response when you see an adverse effect. And it was one that shows that the science is guiding the way here. And when there was an adverse response that was identified in one individual, AstraZeneca chose to pause that phase three clinical trial.
Kayleigh McEnany: (12:36)
There are still two American vaccines in phase three clinical trials showing great promise, but AstraZeneca, what is happening there is showing that the science is guiding the way on a vaccine. Which is what Dr. Fauci, others like Alex Azar and the president have said all along.
Speaker 7: (12:50)
So, you’re still confident that you’ll see a vaccine sort of before the end of the year?
Kayleigh McEnany: (12:54)
By the end of the year is the goal. Yes.
Speaker 7: (12:56)
And has that slipped though, because there was some discussion about seeing something around the time of the election, so do you think it delays that?
Kayleigh McEnany: (13:02)
Our timing is not about the election, it is about saving lives and by the end of the year has always been our goal. But of course, a safe and effective vaccine, we will take it as quickly as we can get it.
Speaker 7: (13:12)
Can I ask you a question about China too? So the customs and border protection was supposed to be announcing or said that they would announce a ban on imports of many products from Xinjiang Province in China, as a result of the human rights abuses there against the Uyghurs.
Speaker 7: (13:29)
That announcement hasn’t come formally. It was supposed to be announced here at the White House. Are you intending to make that announcement or has there been some backlash against just the breadth of it? It does encompass quite a lot of different products, including tomato products that-
Kayleigh McEnany: (13:45)
Yeah. I have no upcoming announcements about how we’ll publicly talk about that discussion, but if I get more information, I’ll let you know. Yes.
Speaker 8: (13:53)
Kayleigh, can I ask about Nevada, please?
Kayleigh McEnany: (13:55)
Speaker 8: (13:55)
It’s my understanding that the two rallies this weekend in Nevada have been canceled because of Governor Sisolak’s order preventing events of 50 people or more. Does the president to have a reaction? And what is the White House policy about complying with the states orders limit in the size of an event?
Kayleigh McEnany: (14:13)
I have not heard that about the rallies, but I’d refer you to the campaign for further information on that. But as I discussed with Zeke here, that we believe that if people want to show up and express their political views, that’s their choice to do so. We hand out masks. We encourage individuals to wear those masks. A lot of people did. I was in North Carolina last night and saw it. We give out hand sanitizer.
Kayleigh McEnany: (14:35)
But at the end of the day, if you want to join a peaceful protest, you can do so and there’s no reason just like the protest we’ve seen in the streets, you can’t show up and express your political view at a rally. Yes.
Speaker 9: (14:47)
Kayleigh, can you give us some understanding about why the president agreed to sit down with Bob Woodward for 18 interviews, when his first book about the administration was so deeply critical?
Kayleigh McEnany: (14:56)
Because he’s the most transparent president in history.
Speaker 9: (14:58)
Okay. Sorry. One more follow up. When do you expect that we’ll get the short list of who the president is considering for the SCOTUS picks? And what’s the criteria that he’s using to assemble that list?
Kayleigh McEnany: (15:09)
Yeah, that’s a good question. You’ll get that list in short order. The president is very excited to share who he would nominate to the Supreme Court. And what will guide his choices are people who follow the constitution. He wants constitution abiding judges. He wants textualists, who believe the words of the statue actually are what they are, not subject to interpretation. He wants judges guided by the constitution, judges and the ilk of the two that he’s nominated like Justice Kavanaugh and Gorsuch. Yes.
Speaker 10: (15:41)
Thanks, Kayleigh. Did the president or anyone at the White House have conversations with the Department of Justice about their decision to intervene in [inaudible 00:15:48] lawsuit? And if so, what were the nature of those conversations?
Kayleigh McEnany: (15:52)
I’m not aware of any discussions that have been had.
Speaker 11: (15:56)
Thanks, Kayleigh. The president has claimed he signed the most-favored-nations executive order on prescription drugs. He mentioned this again last night. We haven’t seen the text. Has he actually signed the EO? And if so, when will we see the tax? And can you tell us what the status of negotiations are with pharma?
Kayleigh McEnany: (16:12)
Yeah, so the EO, I believe he’s referring to there, is the previous one he signed. A provision of that was most-favored-nation. Which means that for Medicare programs, you have two ways to get prescriptions part D or part B. Part B are drugs you would receive at the doctor’s office. And the executive order tells the secretary to peg prices for part B to a most-favored-nation price, to make sure that American citizens are getting their medications at a price equally as cheap as other countries.
Kayleigh McEnany: (16:43)
So that was the initial EO I believe he was referring to. But any updates, I’ll let you know, in the upcoming days. Yes.
Speaker 12: (16:50)
Thank you, Kayleigh. Just following up on the coronavirus issues. How is it not misleading for his advisers to tell him and compare this virus potential to the Spanish flu of 1918, but then for the president to say that this could disappear by April?
Kayleigh McEnany: (17:11)
The president, again, was expressing calm. The president was hopeful that we would be able to manage this and handle it in a way that we can make it go away as quickly as possible. And the president rose to the occasion and did just that.
Kayleigh McEnany: (17:30)
By the way, it’s worth mentioning the misleading that the WHO in China did on this. When you had the WHO, they were repeating China’s claim that the virus does not transmit. This was a novel virus, no one had seen and you have the World Health Organization saying this virus does not transmit readily. That is the information [crosstalk 00:17:49] we were getting. You had-
Speaker 12: (17:53)
-said that this virus could be the biggest threat to his presidency. Matt Pottenger agreed with that assessment. And then President Trump would later say that no one could have predicted this, when his own experts were predicting this.
Kayleigh McEnany: (18:07)
Look, you’re referring to the intel community. And what the president knew was, and I’ve walked you through this before. On January 23rd, the intel community briefed President Trump for the first time about COVID. And the briefing said, “Coronavirus from China is poised to spread globally. But the good news is that it is not deadly for most people.” This is the information President Trump was getting. And the next time he was briefed on it was January 28th, when he was told that the spread was happening outside of China, and the deaths remained all inside China. He was told then that China is not sharing key data and indeed, China was not. Because as I noted to you on January 9th, the World Health Organization said it does not readily transmit between people and on January 14th, the World Health Organization said, “No clear evidence of human to human transmission.” Clearly that was not true.
Kayleigh McEnany: (18:54)
Even on February 29th, as the virus was spreading the WHO put political correctness first by opposing travel restrictions. Note that on January 31st, President Trump put into place, those travel restrictions, that Democrats called xenophobic. Shame on them. Yes.
Speaker 13: (19:10)
Thanks, Kayleigh. On the same day, the president tweeted that the virus will become weaker when the weather started getting warmer. He told Bob Woodward it was going to be deadly stuff. So why does Bob Woodward get the president’s unvarnished opinion, when the American people don’t?
Kayleigh McEnany: (19:23)
He was giving Bob Woodward the same opinion he gave from the podium. And he said, “I am here. I want to express calm.” That is what a leader does. He has always shared the facts. He has always been forthright, and he’s always followed the advice of his medical experts like Dr. Fauci, who called his response impressive. Yes.
Speaker 13: (19:40)
But he never said this was deadly stuff to the American people.
Kayleigh McEnany: (19:42)
Yes, yes, he did. He acknowledged that hundreds of thousands could die. And he took the right response, which was to temporarily shut down the country, saved millions of lives, and so two of his therapeutics, so too, will the vaccine that’s being developed. Yes.
Speaker 14: (19:58)
The protests in the Belarus continue as well as the crackdown on the opposition. What concrete steps the president is going to take to support Belarusians in their struggle for democracy and to stop human rights abuses?
Kayleigh McEnany: (20:16)
Yeah. It’s another very good question. The US is extremely concerned by continued human rights violations in the wake of Belarus’ election. Reports of opposition figures being kidnapped forcibly expelled, or otherwise threatened, are just a few of the many methods that the Belorussian government is using in its attempts to deny freedom of speech. The US is working with our international partners to hold all of those committing these abuses accountable. And we call on the Belorussian government to release all who are being unjustly detained.
Kayleigh McEnany: (20:46)
As for the election, the election, there was not a real election. It was neither free nor fair. It was fraudulent. The massive number of Belarussians protesting peacefully makes clear that the government can no longer ignore the people’s calls for democracy. Yes.
Speaker 15: (21:02)
Kayleigh, how is the president keeping his promise of ending endless wars if this announcement on Iraq is just a drawdown, not a withdrawal? There are still troops in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain. There’s still troops, it’s not really keeping the 2016 promise, is it?
Kayleigh McEnany: (21:18)
The president’s drawing down our troops, these things take time. We want to ensure that the Iraqi security forces are well-trained, and our US troops have done a magnificent job doing just that. We believe that now is the time when we can make this draw down, keep the country stable, because of the training that our troops have done.
Speaker 15: (21:37)
But [inaudible 00:21:38] an attempt to kind of try and make it look like the promises being kept in advance of the election?
Kayleigh McEnany: (21:43)
No, not at all. This is it an expression that we believe that Iraqi’s security forces can do this alongside the troops that will remain there. And the facts tell the story that this president broke the 39 year old streak of American presidents either starting a war or bringing the United States into an international armed conflict. So unlike past presidents, this president has prioritized peace through strength, which is his foreign policy. [crosstalk 00:22:08] Yes, Chenel.
Speaker 15: (22:08)
Just really, really quick follow up. Sorry, just on the breaking the 39 year trend, how does that work if the president sent troops into Saudi Arabia?
Kayleigh McEnany: (22:21)
Kayleigh, thank you. With Kosovo and United Arab Emirates, these are Muslim majority countries expanding two continents now, each bringing some kind of agreement with Israel towards peace. So my question is two points. Number one, have the Palestinians opened up any kind of discourse with the White House as to their reaction to these developments and with Israel and Middle Eastern countries? And number two, have the Palestinians actually express any interest in distancing themselves from Iran in the interest of Middle East peace?
Kayleigh McEnany: (22:56)
Yeah. Through the deal, President Trump made additional progress on reaching peace in the Middle East. Kosovo and Israel agreed to mutual recognition and normalization of ties. And Serbia committed to moving its embassy to Jerusalem, only a few weeks after the historic Abraham Accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Kayleigh McEnany: (23:15)
This is another huge step forward for broader peace in the Middle East and the rest of the world. I’d refer you to the Palestinians for their reaction, but it is quite telling that this historic agreement between Serbia and Kosovo addressing a decades long conflict was only mentioned one time on CNN and one time on MSNBC. Yes.
Speaker 17: (23:37)
Thank you, Kayleigh. I want to ask about the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022. More than 160 human rights have called on the International Olympic Committee Chief to revoke the games from Beijing. Would President Trump support and American boycott of the games over the Chinese regimes human rights abuses.
Kayleigh McEnany: (24:00)
I haven’t spoken to him specifically on that. So I’d have to get back to you. But this president has always held China accountable. His actions very clearly show that he has stood up to China, unlike any president before him in modern history. But one thing I do want to address is just this really egregious, and I addressed it on Friday, but it’s worth updating this Atlantic story written by a liberal activist.
Kayleigh McEnany: (24:30)
Now you have 25 people who have spoken out and dismissed this story. And now you even have the author of the story who said, quote, “I share the view that it’s not good enough,” quote, referring to the fact that he did this false report based on anonymous sources. And basically, when you look at the liberal activists who wrote this, he has a very bad history. He can’t be trusted.
Kayleigh McEnany: (24:55)
The left’s new hero used to be their number one enemy for his role in the US entry into Iraq. Indeed, in the early 2000s this author was then at The New Yorker and he extensively wrote on the possible links between Iraq and Al-Qaeda, a suggested link that was key behind the decision of US involvement in Iraq. He relied on people who and his words, quote, “Seemed to me to be credible.” Who said that they had information about such connections between Al Qaeda in Iraq. And Goldberg’s reporting simply backed up his view that the US should invade Iraq.
Kayleigh McEnany: (25:32)
In Slate in 2002, this author argued in favor of the US invading Iraq. And later, he even admitted that he knew people blamed him for helping to get the US into the war. He wrote a sarcastic piece saying, “Yes, yes. I know I started the Iraq war.”
Kayleigh McEnany: (25:49)
His reporting cannot be trusted, as noted by the fact that 25 people have come out on the record dismissing his report, the report by a liberal activists. Thank you. [crosstalk 00:25:59]
Speaker 18: (25:59)
Kayleigh, if he’s not lying, why did he call it a hoax?