May 15, 2020
White House Kayleigh McEnany Press Conference Transcript May 15
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany held a press conference on Friday, May 15. Read the full news briefing here.
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Kayleigh McEnany: (00:00)
… and provide food to our most vulnerable communities. Senior Advisor Ivanka Trump and Secretary Perdue are doing very good work. Now, I would like to focus on the Trump administration’s unprecedented coronavirus response. Some have erroneously suggested that the Trump administration threw out the pandemic response playbook left by the Obama-Biden administration. What the critics failed to note, however, is that this thin packet of paper was replaced by two detailed, robust pandemic response reports commissioned by the Trump administration. So, we exchanged this one, which I will hand over to my assistant, [Lindy 00:00:00:37], for these two pandemic response plans.
Kayleigh McEnany: (00:43)
In 2018, the Trump administration issued our pandemic crisis action plan, one of the binders that I just handed to Lindy. Further from August 13th to the 16th, the Trump administration conducted the Crimson Contagion 2019 Functional Exercise. This was a pandemic stimulation to test the nation’s ability to respond to a large scale outbreak. In January of 2020, HHS issued the Crimson Contagion 2019 Functional Exercise After Action report. That was one of the additional documents that I just handed over. This exercise exposed the shortcomings and legacy planning documents, which informed President Trump’s coronavirus response beginning as early as January and those legacy planning documents shortcomings were in fact, the papers that I just handed over that were provided to us by the Obama-Biden administration. For example, President Trump’s Crimson After Action report highlighted that the Obama era policy directive from November 2016, quote, and I’m quoting from the document, “Does not provide the requisite mechanisms or processes to effectively lead the coordination of the federal government’s response.”
Kayleigh McEnany: (01:55)
Instead, President Trump established the White House Coronavirus Taskforce and put Vice President Pence in charge of the interagency response. These were effective decisions and they undoubtedly enhanced our response to the coronavirus. Furthermore, what Crimson Contagion taught us is that President Trump was right all along about misguided economic and trade policies that left Americans vulnerable to pandemics. In June 2016, so many, many years ago, then businessman, Donald Trump, said this, “America became the world’s dominant economy by becoming the world’s dominant producer. I have visited cities and towns across this country where a third or even half of manufacturing jobs have been wiped out in the last 20 years. Today, we import nearly 800 billion more in goods than we export. This is not some natural disaster. It is politician-made disaster.” That was then-candidate Trump, who has now implemented those policies as President Trump and this forward-thinking vision contrasted with that of President Obama, who said, “Trump just says, ‘Well, I’m going to negotiate a better deal.’ Well, what, how exactly are you going to negotiate that? What magic wand do you have?”
Kayleigh McEnany: (03:06)
That magic wand was ripping up the Transpacific Partnership, it was ripping up NAFTA, it was replacing it with the U.S. Mexico Canada agreement, a great deal for our automakers and our farmers, and it was ending China’s predatory trade policies and negotiating a historic Phase One China deal. That is what this president has done. Yesterday, President Trump went to Allentown, Pennsylvania, and visited Owens and Minor, Inc. This was a clear example of domestic manufacturing at work. You saw this administration taking action to restructure and secure our stockpile of medical supplies. President Trump released a plan to restructure the Strategic National Stockpile yesterday, and he signed an executive order providing the authority to ensure America is producing critical goods necessary to build up our strategic stockpiles. The president’s trip was an example of what he’s been saying all along that America must manufacture, that America must produce here in our interior.
Kayleigh McEnany: (04:04)
Additionally, the president launched Project Airbridge to bring supplies from all over the world to support America’s frontline healthcare workers. The administration partnered with the private sector to secure donations and production of PPE and other medical supplies, and President Trump effectively leveraged the Defense Production Act, otherwise known as the DPA, to mobilize our country to manufacture and secure massive amounts of PPE and ventilators. Through Project Airbridge to date, more than 1.4 million N95 respirators have been delivered as well as 921 million gloves, 17.1 million surgical gowns, and more. The Trump playbook and the whole of America’s response to this pandemic has far exceeded what this administration inherited.
Kayleigh McEnany: (04:48)
Finally, president Trump took action before the pandemic to anticipate and game plan such scenarios. President Trump streamlined the National Security Council in 2018 by creating a counter-proliferation and biodefense directorate. This directorate combined NSC experts focused on biological threats under a single and more senior leader and did away with a confusing organizational chart that required some experts to report to two bosses simultaneously. In short, the NSC retained the same number of experts focused on biological threats that the Obama administration had, but honed them in and focused them more and housed them in a more coherent structure and with a more senior leader.
Kayleigh McEnany: (05:27)
I’d also note that this directorate which exists today is the same office that critics allege to this day, that President Trump eliminated. I hope in your reporting you are now able to debunk this claim. Recognizing the seriousness of biological threats, President Trump released a series of strategic documents to transform our preparedness for biological incidents, including pandemics. In September of 2018, President Trump released the national biodefense strategy, in May of 2019, he released the global health security strategy, and in September of 2019, he signed an EO to modernize influenza vaccines. His leadership is evident in the early days of this pandemic and in the preparation before that. These actions I’ve outlined today, these plans I noted, helped us as we approached what was an unprecedented crisis. It helped us to deploy our resources and to deliver what I believe is one of the best responses we’ve seen in this country’s history. And with that, I’ll take questions. John?
You talked about Crimson Contagion back in August. Did that exercise suggest that early and extensive testing would be critical in response to any pandemic?
Kayleigh McEnany: (06:35)
I’m not aware of exactly what it revealed with regard to testing. What it basically did was say to us, “Look, some of the previous iterations of plans have put HHS in the lead.” HHS, of course, plays a critical role in our response, but one of the things that was identified is you need a whole of government response that’s orchestrated from the highest levels. And for us, what that meant in real-time was President Trump immediately saying, “Hey, we need a taskforce. We need the vice president leading this. We need the White House at the helm coordinating agencies.” And that valuable piece of advice that we garnered from the exercise was able to be deployed in real-time. So, it was a valuable exercise that we did in August of 2019
Going forward, will early and extensive testing now be among the recommendations that are put into any future plans?
Kayleigh McEnany: (07:25)
We have not outlined a future plan just yet. We’re still operating off of the one that was issued fairly recently in January of 2020. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve learned a lot as we’ve moved forward and navigated this pandemic and navigated the deploying of more than 90,000 N95 respirators, a billion gloves, this really historic response. I think we’ve learned that working with the private sector has been very effective. We have an incredible innovative private sector in this country and to have a businessman at the helm in President Trump, who was able to coordinate that was very effective and I think will become the playbook for dealing with future pandemics. Katelyn?
I have two questions. So, you replaced the Obama playbook with these two you said you’ve developed. Is it in there that testing needs to be increased as soon as this is happening and what about personal protective equipment?
Kayleigh McEnany: (08:12)
Look, personal protective equipment is very important and I’m proud of what this administration has done. And I’m very glad that you asked about that because I have some supply numbers for you today. And I actually short-changed us a little bit there. 92.7 N95 masks, 133.7 million surgical masks, 22.4 million surgical gowns, 10.5 million face shields, and almost 1 billion gloves. As you saw at Owens and Minor, our domestic manufacturing has been deployed in this country in a way it never has been before since at least world war II and will become the future playbook, I believe, for future administrations in navigating a pandemic response.
Sorry, so does it say in that playbook that personal protective gear should be increased? The production of it, as soon as a pandemic is underway as with coronavirus?
Kayleigh McEnany: (08:59)
What it says is this. That we need personal protective equipment. And what it is-
Kayleigh McEnay: (09:03)
Says is this, that look, we need personal protective equipment. And what did this administration do? We gave it. The Obama playbook is online. One of these, I believe, is public. One is public. So you can look through that online. But what we’ve done is remarkable, and that is exactly what you just asked me. Does it say we need more PPE? Well, we’ve delivered historic numbers of PPE, one billion gloves. We’ll continue to do that. We’ll continue to fill the stockpile. We’re ready for the fall. And this administration has acted in a way that I don’t believe, certainly based on what I read in the Obama playbook, would have able to have deployed what this administration has done. Jeff?
Speaker 1: (09:35)
I have a follow up question. So I was just asking that because it seemed to take so long to get more masks and swabs and whatnot, which they’re still dealing with now. But my other question is on Rick Bright. The President said yesterday that he probably should not be working in federal government anymore, but he is now expected to start his new job next week. Does the President still welcome him starting that new position? And can you clarify exactly what that job is?
Kayleigh McEnay: (09:56)
Well, it’s interesting to ask about whether Rick Bright should start in a position because Rick Bright hasn’t showed up for a position. He was transferred to lead a bold new $1 billion testing program. He’s not yet shown up for work. He takes a $285,000 salary. That’s extraordinary for a federal government salary. And he is still on taxpayer funded medical leave so he can work with partisan attorneys to malign this president. So Mr. Bright, he should perhaps show up for the job that he currently has. Jeff?
But why does President Trump choose not to wear a face mask? Does he think it sends the wrong message?
Kayleigh McEnay: (10:33)
That’s his choice. He’s tested each and every day. Those of us around him, I’m in the oval office, I wear a face mask around him to protect him. He’s very protected. He tests negative daily. And that’s his personal choice. And I would know it is consistent with the CDC guidelines, which say they recommend, but it’s the personal choice of the individual.
But at the very least, to set an example for the American people. Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci today, they’re both tested routinely, but they both had their face masks on in the rose garden.
Kayleigh McEnay: (10:59)
I think he did set an example. He set an example when he said to the West Wing, “I want all of you wearing face masks in here.” And he noted that, I believe it was two days ago. And that is over, above, and beyond what CDC guidelines say. But all of our staffers are wearing face masks. And that was at the direction of the President. I think that’s a pretty good example. Yes.
Speaker 2: (11:17)
Kayleigh, thanks so much. I want to ask you about the FDA guidance on the Abbott tests. But firstly, you’ve talked about all of this preparation that the Trump administration did, but then how come on January 2020, the stockpile was as low as it was on supplies like face masks, like N95s?
Kayleigh McEnay: (11:35)
Yeah, it’s a really good question. It’s a really important question. Perhaps I should redirect your question to President Obama who left the stockpile empty. And there was a USA Today fact check of that. He left the cupboards bare, as the president noted, and USA Today said there’s no indication that the Obama administration took significant steps to replenish the supply of N95 masks in the Strategic National Stockpile after it was depleted from repeated crises. So at the H1N1, it was full. At the end of H1N1, it was empty and President Obama left it empty and took President Trump to refill it.
Speaker 2: (12:09)
Wait, your National Defense Biodefense Strategy came out in September 2018 and the President has been now in office for over three years at this point.
Kayleigh McEnay: (12:18)
Yeah, well, we refilled that stockpile. We got the N95 masks out, ventilators, another good example, not a single American died for lack of a ventilator. 100,000 ventilators in 100 days, three times what is produced in the average year, three times the amount of N95 respirators our healthcare industry uses we have delivered. We cleaned up the mess that was very clearly left by President Obama. And we got that out. And I would also note in terms of fixing the stockpile, it’s also fixing domestic supply chains. That was very important. And this President is the president who took on that issue, who said, “We need to produce here. As China hoards PPE, we need to have domestic manufacturing.” So there was a systemic fix that needed to happen. And President Trump is the first president in my knowledge that has really, to this degree, took on that systemic fix.
Speaker 2: (13:07)
And then on the Abbott tests, these are the tests that you guys take every day that we’ve started been given every day, but these recent studies coming out, I mean, numbers like a third of cases may be missed up, to 48% of cases may be missed. Does that give this White House any pause? Are you considering potentially other tests? Does this change the way that you guys are going to move going forward?
Kayleigh McEnay: (13:26)
Yes. I’m glad you asked that. It’s very important. When the FDA gets any information that calls into question a test, they put it out there. It’s incumbent upon them to make sure the American people have up to date information. Dr. Hahn, I spoke with him this morning. I actually spoke with him several times. He said, “We continue to recommend the tests.” Secretary Azar says, “We have confidence in the test, otherwise it wouldn’t be out on the market.” That being said, they take any indication of false negatives very seriously. Some of these studies, Secretary Azar says he believes there was user error in them, meaning that the time transporting them might have affected the accuracy of the tests. But to that end, what the FDA has said is that any negative test results that are not consistent with the patient’s clinical signs, so if you’re coughing, you get a negative test, it’s an Abbott test, you should consider getting a second test. That’s the guidance as of now. Yes.
Speaker 3: (14:20)
The President told Maria Bartiromo yesterday that he wasn’t interested in talking with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, right now. Why is that? Why would he not want to talk to him?
Kayleigh McEnay: (14:30)
He’s very frustrated with China. And I’ll leave it to the President as to when he does resume speaking with the Chinese leader. But look, China, slow walked this. I’ve shared with you guys before on human to human transmission, it was really important that the world knew of that aspect of the disease, but that information was slow walked through the WHO. The genetic sequencing likewise was not given until a professor in Shanghai did so on his own. The President has repeatedly noted that why are they letting flights out of China, but not into China? These decisions put American lives at risk. Not just American lives, but lives around the globe. We know that this disease came from China. And why that information was not shared, some of the information I just suggested is really unacceptable. So he’s frustrated at this point and I’ll leave it to him.
Speaker 3: (15:20)
The President is quite often talked about having a warm relationship with President Xi. Is that now over? Has a chill set in?
Kayleigh McEnay: (15:28)
Well, I’ll leave it to the President as to how to characterize their relationship. But this is a president who, if anyone knows how to talk to China, it’s him. He did get the phase one China deal, $250 billion of purchasing of American products. It was a big deal and a big one for America. And it took President Trump to get that win. Yes.
Speaker 4: (15:48)
The President, earlier in the Oval Office, said that the Pentagon was developing a quote, “super duper missile.” Pentagon was asked about that shortly after the President made his remarks and declined to comment, referring it back to the White House. So I’m wondering if you can say what the President was describing.
Kayleigh McEnay: (16:04)
Yeah. I would just refer you back to the President remarks and the Pentagon. I don’t have any new information on that at this point. Yes.
Speaker 5: (16:10)
Can you clarify, Kayleigh, when did the administration start replenishing the stockpile of PPE? And does that report get into that?
Kayleigh McEnay: (16:20)
The President immediately, when it was necessary to get more PPE for America’s healthcare workers, immediately went into action. And I’ve listed out for you all of the results of those actions, which have been extraordinary, greatest mobilization of the private sector since World War II. And I would also note, I do have some new information-
Speaker 5: (16:41)
What were some actions taken before January 2020 regarding PPE and trying to replenish that?
Kayleigh McEnay: (16:47)
I did talk to Secretary Azar a little bit about this yesterday. And one of the things Secretary Azar said to me is when we got to the federal government, we were on the brink of … We were in very hostile confrontations with several powers because of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. And there were real bio-terrorism threats. And that was the immediate threat that the administration focused on in terms of the stockpile. And immediately, when it became clear a pandemic was the concern over bio-terrorism, we transitioned as quickly as humanly possible and filled the empty cupboards left by President Obama.
Kayleigh McEnay: (17:27)
And I do have, if I can find it in here, some new information on ventilators, just to show how extraordinary this administration’s effort was on the stockpile. That we’ve shipped 766 ventilators overseas to our partners because no one here has died for lack of a ventilator. So we’ve done so well and over-performed so much. We can say that we’ve committed over 15,000 ventilators to 40 countries by the end of July because that is American ingenuity. That is the government of President Trump. And that is the unprecedented partnership of this government and the private sector. Yes.
Speaker 6: (18:00)
Switching gears for just a moment. Also in his interview with Maria Bartiromo-
Speaker 7: (18:03)
Switching gears for just a moment. Also in his interview with Maria Bartiromo the other day, the President suggested that people should be jailed for, what he said earlier in the week was, a very obvious crime. You’re an attorney and the President’s spokesperson. Perhaps you could lay out the elements of this crime? What crime was committed, and in what way?
Kayleigh McEnay: (18:19)
I assume you’re referring to the Obama Administration and the unmasking and-
Speaker 7: (18:24)
The President calls it “Obamagate.” What is it? What are the elements of that crime?
Kayleigh McEnay: (18:27)
I’m really glad you asked. Because there hasn’t been a lot of journalistic curiosity on this front, and I’m very glad that you asked this question. Look, there were a number of questions raised by the actions of the Obama Administration. The Steele dossier funded by the Democratic National Committee. The opposition political party to the President was used to attain FISA warrants to listen in on conversations of people within the Trump campaign. There was the unmasking the identity of Michael Flynn. And we know that in a January 5th meeting in the oval office with President Obama, Sally Yates from the Department of Justice learned about the unmasking. Not from the Department of Justice or for the FBI, she learned about it from President Obama and was stunned and can barely process what she was hearing at the time, because she was stunned of his knowledge of that.
Kayleigh McEnay: (19:18)
We know that there was a lot of wrongdoing in the case of Michael Flynn. The FBI notes, for instance, that said should we, “get him to lie?” As they pontificated their strategy. We know that the identity of this three decade general was leaked to the press, a criminal leak to the press of his identity and violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. These are very serious questions. They’ve been ignored by the media for far too long. And I’m very glad that I think that is the second question that I have fielded on Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, because justice does matter. Those questions, they matter.
Speaker 7: (19:52)
To be clear, I heard you mention one thing you said was criminal. And that was, what?
Kayleigh McEnay: (19:58)
The one thing that I’ve said that was criminal?
Speaker 7: (19:59)
Kayleigh McEnay: (20:00)
The leaking of his name and the very real questions that have been raised. But if you want to start talking about wrongdoing in the administration, happy to go through. Andy McCabe, leaking to the Wall Street Journal and then lying about it. Happy to talk about James Clapper lying before Congress saying the NSA does not monitor phone calls. That was an inaccuracy to say the least, if not a lie. John Brennan telling Congress that the, “Bogus Steele dossier played no role in the Russia probe,” when in fact we know it did and was the basis of attaining FISA warrants. So there is a lot of mistruths there that were said, many of them under oath. I would point you to those and the many other real questions that I hope you all will pursue.
Speaker 7: (20:37)
So, is the President saying that those people should be jailed? The people you just mentioned?
Kayleigh McEnay: (20:40)
I never said that. Those are your words, not mine. But perhaps you should look into it and get me some answers? That is after all the job [crosstalk 00:20:47]. That is after all the job of reporters to answer the very questions that I’ve laid out. And I hope you guys will take the time to do it.
Speaker 7: (20:52)
[inaudible 00:20:52] It’s the job of the Press Secretary to answer the question-
Kayleigh McEnay: (20:52)
And, and I also find it interesting… If we want to start talking about fabrication of crimes, we can litigate that case pretty publicly with James Clapper who said what President Trump did with Russia that Watergate paled in comparison. We can talk about Eric Swalwell lying in saying, “President Trump was working on behalf of the Russians.” We can talk about Hakeem Jeffries lying in saying, “The President was a Russian asset.” We can talk about Schiff saying there was ample evidence of collusion in plain sight, when in fact there was not. We can talk about Mark Warner saying, “There’s enormous amounts of evidence of collusion.” We can talk about a CNN historian who said, “There was a smell of treason in the Trump Russia probe.” When in fact, for three years you all talked about collusion and there was none. And it was a huge injustice, not just to this administration, but to the American people who deserve truth. Not the alleging of absolutely false allegations against this President.
Kayleigh McEnay: (21:47)
Yes. [crosstalk 00:21:48].
Speaker 7: (21:47)
Thank you Kayleigh-
David Lim: (21:48)
France has pushed back against the comment by the CEO of Sanofi- [crosstalk 00:21:52]
Kayleigh McEnay: (21:51)
Sorry, one second. I can’t really… I’ll get to you next. Go ahead.
David Lim: (21:56)
France’s pushback by a comment by the CEO of Sanofi, that the United States would be first in line for a vaccine if that firm develops because of initial conduct by BARDA. Does the Administration think that the United States should receive the first doses if Sanofi does discover that vaccine?
Kayleigh McEnay: (22:12)
I haven’t spoken to the President about that, so I don’t have any announcements on that front.
Kayleigh McEnay: (22:16)
But yes, back there. And then I’ll come up to you.
John Gizzi: (22:19)
Thank you, Kayleigh. Two brief questions. First, a followup to Steve’s question regarding China. 48 hours ago, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board followed the President’s suggestion and cut off any investment of federal pensions for civilian and military workers into China on their markets. Therefore, cutting off funds that would be invested in State run companies. Will the President now urge private sector businesses, and I think of BlackRock which has invested in 137 Chinese companies, to follow this example and get out of investing in China?
Kayleigh McEnay: (23:04)
Well, I can’t give any information about what the President will or will not do next, but it’s a really important topic. And I would just say that the President’s decisive move to halt plans for investing TSP funds into Chinese companies was the right call. It protects our military federal employees from risky investments, and avoids funding Chinese defense contractors. And this action halts plans to invest military federal employees retirement funds of 4.5 billion in Chinese equity. So it was an important move by the President. But in terms of future action on this front, I would leave that to the President. Yes.
John Gizzi: (23:36)
My other question was, in Turkey recently there’s been talk that President Erdogan would like the assistance of President Trump with the currency in Turkey, which is in very bad condition. Will there be any US support of the Turkish currency or does he think Mr. Erdogan should apply for an IMF loan?
Kayleigh McEnay: (23:57)
I don’t have any information on that front either as to his future actions with regard to Turkish currency?
Kayleigh McEnay: (24:02)
Speaker 8: (24:02)
Thank you Kayleigh. So the President has called for transparency in what he calls “Obamagate.” Is he willing to re-classify the transcript of General Flynn’s call to Sergey Kislyakhis so everyone can see what was said on that call?
Kayleigh McEnay: (24:16)
I have not asked him that. What I know that he would like to see right now is the lost 302, apparently lost 302. We know 302 is a summary of an interview that the FBI did with Michael Flynn that has apparently gone missing. So we would really be quite curious to see what transpired in that 302 after the FBI pontificating quote, “getting Flynn to lie,” so that they could get him fired or prosecuted.
Kayleigh McEnay: (24:41)
Speaker 9: (24:42)
Thank you, Kayleigh. When will the White House open talks with House Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer on the HEROES Act? Have there been any informal talks occurring? And does the White House support more aid to state and local government as part of that package?
Kayleigh McEnay: (24:57)
So the President has said that he would talk about state and local aid, but it cannot become a pretext for bailing out blue States that have gotten themselves into financial trouble. So while he’s open to discussing it, he has no immediate plans to move forward with the Phase 4. He said, something he’s looking at but he wants to take some time to consider what should be in it.
Kayleigh McEnay: (25:19)
The Pelosi bill has been entirely unacceptable. For instance, one of the things that I found really funny in her bill, which she requires that the President appoint a Medical Supply Response Coordinator who would serve as the point of contact for the healthcare system, supply chain officials, and States on medical supplies. I don’t know if Speaker Pelosi has just not been paying attention while she’s been out in California and we’ve been here working. But, I happen to be sitting by this so-called Medical Supply Response Coordinator on Air Force One yesterday. He’s been around for quite some time, his name is Admiral Polowczykis who’s coordinating this. And perhaps she doesn’t know that. Because Admiral P has been doing this for quite some time. But that’s just an example of how quite odd the Pelosi bill is, packed full of liberal wishlists. Like, ensuring that illegal immigrants, for instance, get direct payments because they’re not looking at social security numbers to verify that taxpayer dollars are going to actual taxpayers. So elements like that are non-starters, and then there’s just really curious elements that really suggests if the speaker is even paying attention.
Kayleigh McEnay: (26:27)
Thank you, Kayleigh. Going back to the HEROES Act, Speaker Pelosi presented it today for a vote and you have members of her own party coming in and saying, “This is Washington politics at its worst.” Does the White House get a sense that members of the Democrat party are starting to grow less confident in Pelosi’s leadership during this pandemic? Have you been communicating with anybody on the Democrat side?
Kayleigh McEnay: (26:53)
I spoken to them directly, but I have seen some of the comments you’re talking about, and it certainly would suggest that. I mean, we’re in the middle of a pandemic and what is Nancy Pelosi doing? She’s saying, she’s exploit-
Kayleigh McEnany: (27:03)
… pandemic, and what is Nancy Pelosi doing? She’s exploiting the crisis and pushing for mass mail-in voting, even though we know it’s more susceptible to voting fraud. I mean, we’re in the middle of a pandemic and this is what she’s interested in pushing. Instead of talking about real measures like the payroll tax, which would be a tax break for low and middle-income Americans, she’s interested in removing the threshold for state and local tax deductions, which would essentially be a huge win for billionaires in California and New York.
Kayleigh McEnany: (27:29)
So, it’s really interesting right now that you have the party that says they’re for working Americans saying, “Let’s remove the state and local tax threshold so that millionaires and billionaires get big payouts in states like California and New York,” and you have the Republican party, and the party of President Trump saying, “Let’s lower the payroll tax so that low-income Americans, who pay more payroll taxes than they do income taxes, get a tax break.” It’s really interesting, the current posture of the two parties. Yes?
Can I ask a question about Obama’s stockpile? Was there, at any point, any knowledge that when the transition between the Obama administration into the Trump administration, did anybody from the Obama team brief the Trump administration about the depletion of the national stockpile? At one point, the PPE mass went down to below 2% what the national need was. Did anybody from the Obama administration warn the Trump administration going in?
Kayleigh McEnany: (28:24)
It’s a really good question. Not to my knowledge. To my knowledge, the two things President Obama warned about were North Korea and Michael Flynn. But what I do know is this, the Obama administration wasn’t throwing ventilators into the stockpile. They were unmasking Lieutenant General Michael Flynn in the waning days of their administration. Yes?
Thank you, Kayleigh. The President, this one is subject of the payroll tax cut, the President has said that that should be a part of the next stimulus bill, but he’s also indicated that there are discussions for more direct payments. So, does he favor one or the other, or does he think you can do both?
Kayleigh McEnany: (28:58)
He hasn’t indicated that anything is a condition, or a starter, or a nonstarter. He’s floated some ideas that he’d like to see in a phase four. At this point, I think he’s looking closely at what we need to spend if a phase four does occur. These are taxpayer dollars. He wants to move forward wisely, but I haven’t heard of any particular thing being a condition, a starter, or a nonstarter, other than the fact that the so-called Heroes Act is certainly a nonstarter. Yes?
Thank you, Kayleigh, as a Harvard law student in 2015, you were vocally against the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, calling arguments for it farcical blabber. Do you think that’s consistent with the President’s views?
Kayleigh McEnany: (29:36)
Look, I’m not up here to give my personal views on anything. What I’d say is that I’m very proud of this administration, which has been fair and equitable and just to all Americans, and open to all Americans as he should be. I think our views are entirely consistent, and I’m not up here to give my views on a Supreme Court case from many years ago. Yes?
Are you consistent when the President said that he’s fine with the decision against? There is a matter to settle.
Kayleigh McEnany: (30:00)
I stand behind the President. I stand by his views. I’m here to represent the President, and not to pontificate about Supreme Court cases from long ago. Yes?
But one question I had on a Supreme Court case I want to get in really quickly just to follow up. Any day now there’s going to be another decision from the Supreme Court related to LGBTQ rights on whether a federal civil rights law covers LGBTQ people. Is the administration doing any sort of contingency planning for that decision?
Kayleigh McEnany: (30:23)
Look again, I’m not going to get ahead of the Supreme Court or give a Supreme Court case projection or outcome. It’s not my position to do that. So I have no information for you on that at this time. Yes?
President Trump has just tweeted we get that U.S. is going to donate ventilators to India. Do you know how many numbers of ventilators the U.S. is donating to India?
Kayleigh McEnany: (30:42)
I don’t know that, but the President just extolled our great relationship with India. India has been a great partner to us for quite some time, and I’m encouraged to hear about the ventilators to India. It’s one of the several countries I noted that will be getting ventilators because this President has done so well on ventilators, 100,000 in a 100 days, that we are able to repurpose them and send them around the world. John?
A follow up, another question, please. The Pew Research Center said that most of the Indian Americans tend to vote for the Democrats. Since the President has made an outreach to the Indian Americans in the last four years …
Kayleigh McEnany: (31:18)
I didn’t hear the first part of your question. Can you just say that again?
A Pew Research survey has recently come out with a report. They say that most of the Indiana Americans mostly vote for the Democrats, not the Republicans. Do agree with their assessment?
Kayleigh McEnany: (31:29)
Look, that would be a question for the campaign. So I’d refer you to the campaign on that Pew poll. Yes?
The President has said before, Kayleigh, that he would like to see a 100 million doses of a viable vaccine by the fall, then 300 million by January. Today, he didn’t mention a 100 million by the fall, but he did mention hopefully getting a vaccine by the new year. Is he tempering expectations of what might be possible? Is he still hoping for a 100 million doses by the fall?
Kayleigh McEnany: (31:56)
No, this President is not tempering expectations. In fact, I think we should be very encouraged about what we heard today from Dr. Salawi, that the early data from clinical trials for coronavirus vaccine data makes him confident that we will have a vaccine by the end of 2020. Operation Warp Speed is a great new, innovative operation that I think will take us to getting a vaccine, as Dr. Salawi said, in short order.
Kayleigh McEnany: (32:23)
In consultation, he’s doing this, of course, with the four-star general, General Perna is his name, and it’s going to be a great effort, and I think by the fall we will see one, as has been predicted. This president wants to see one processed as fast as humanly possible.
Kayleigh McEnany: (32:38)
And I would note that he got us into phase one clinical trial faster than Dr. Fouci had ever seen in the history of his career. And that’s because this president has really put the fire under the private sector and under the FDA to get 92 emergency use authorizations for testing, get to phase one clinical trial faster than ever before. And we can thank President Trump for being at the helm of all of this. Thank you all. I think I got two questions from each of you.
Can I just get a follow up, Kayleigh?
Kayleigh McEnany: (33:03)
So I enjoyed speaking with you all have a great weekend, and I like your pink blazer, Caitlin.
Thank you, Kayleigh. Any more infections at the White House? Have there been anymore positive tests? Get ready for the next event, everybody.