Kayleigh McEnany’s first briefing as White House press secretary started off on a hopeful note — with a promise from her not to lie. That lasted for about all of 15 minutes.
“I will never lie to you. You have my word on that,” McEnany said early during the briefing, in response from a question from the Associated Press’s Jill Colvin.
"I will never lie to you. You have my word on that." -- Kayleigh McEnany during her first press briefing as press secretary (bookmark this) pic.twitter.com/PqUhRAWiun— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 1, 2020
It’s a standard question White House reporters ask new press secretaries, and one that is rarely, if ever, lived up to fully. But it took all of two questions for Trump’s fourth press secretary to break that promise.
McEnany’s first lie from the White House podium came in response to a question about comments President Donald Trump made earlier in the day characterizing Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden as “far more compelling” than the accusations made against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings. Asked to flesh out Trump’s thinking, McEnany characterized the Kavanaugh allegations as “verifiably false.”
“I think it was a grave miscarriage of justice with what happened with Justice Brett Kavanaugh. There’s no need for me to bring up the salacious, awful, and verifiably false allegations that were made against Justice Kavanaugh,” she said.
"The salacious, awful, and verifiably false allegations that were made against Justice Kavanaugh" -- McEnany just lied, breaking the promise she made not to just minutes ago. The allegations against Kavanaugh were not verifiably false.— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 1, 2020
It was a good run. pic.twitter.com/XQp1yer9vt
But that’s a lie. Instead of being “verifiably false,” multiple accusations against Kavanaugh were found to be credible during the course of an investigation conducted by the New York Times that was published last fall, roughly a year after his confirmation to the court.
That wasn’t the only lie McEnany told during her first briefing. Asked about newly released FBI notes regarding the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn that Trump and White House officials have been hyping as evidence that Flynn was “set up,” McEneny misquoted what the documents say to make them sound more incriminating than they are.
“We have a handwritten FBI note that says, quote, we need to get Flynn to lie, quote, and get him fired,” she said.
MeEnany just lied again. She misquoted the FBI notes that Trump is hyping (misleadingly) as bombshell evidence exonerating Michael Flynn. Compare what she said with what the note actually says: https://t.co/fwS2XHsXjy pic.twitter.com/iuOPZuhLl9— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 1, 2020
But the notes don’t say that. All they reveal is that before a January 2017 interview with Flynn, one investigator wrote down, “What is our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” It’s important to keep in mind that at the time, the FBI had already gathered evidence that Flynn had broken the law. The notes do not indicate investigators went into the interview with the goal of manipulating Flynn into lying, as McEnany suggested.
There was more. Asked later why the public should find the sexual misconduct allegations against Trump from more than 20 women less credible than the one against Biden, McEnany said that “the president has swiftly denied all of these allegations that were raised four years ago.” While many of the allegations against Trump were made in 2016, E. Jean Carroll accused Trump of rape just last year.
McEnany's rationale for why Trump's denials of sexual assault are more convincing than Biden's is that "the president has swiftly denied all of these allegations that were raised four years ago. He's always told the truth on these issues." pic.twitter.com/dKKcmmEDpE— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 1, 2020
McEnany then concluded the briefing by reiterating her lies about the Flynn notes.
If her first outing is any indication, McEnany may end up being less hostile with reporters than Sarah Sanders. She may be less gaffe-prone than Sean Spicer. She may be more available to the public than the recently departed Stephanie Grisham, who never held a press briefing, making Friday’s the first one held by a White House press secretary in more than a year.
But like her predecessors, McEnany will use the White House briefing room to tell lies — even right after she promises reporters she won’t.