White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany is asked about President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus at Wednesday’s press briefing.
Q 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?
MS. MCENANY: Absolutely not. This President — at a time when you’re facing insurmountable challenges, it’s important to express confidence, it’s important to express calm.
Q He said specifically, “I wanted to always play it down.” Is “playing it down,” is that — is that expressing calm? It seems dishonest. It seems like a lie.
MS. MCENANY: Can you read the rest of the quote?
Q That’s how much they put in there. He said, “I wanted to play it down.”
MS. MCENANY: Oh, you excluded the last part.
Q We’ll play the full thing on “60 Minutes” on Sunday.
MS. MCENANY: Please — please do.
Q Do you deny —
MS. MCENANY: Please do. Please do explain —
Q — that he misled the American people —
MS. MCENANY: Of course, I deny that.
Q — about the threat of this pandemic?
MS. MCENANY: 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.
So this President does what leaders do — good leaders: It’s stay calm and resolute at a time when you face an unsurmountable challenge. That’s what this President has done.
Q So when we hear these tapes, it will not appear that the President lied to the American public about the threat posed by COVID?
MS. MCENANY: The President has never lied to the American public on COVID. The President has been very —
Q You said it was (inaudible).
MS. MCENANY: The President was expressing calm, and his actions reflect that.
On January 6th, the CDC issued a Wuhan travel notice before any confirmed U.S. cases, among another — 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.