The Slatest

New White House Press Secretary Vows “I Will Never Lie to You” Before Telling a Few Lies

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany calls on reporters during her first on-camera news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on May 1, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany calls on reporters during her first on-camera news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on May 1, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s new press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, held her first White House briefing on Friday afternoon. That in itself was notable considering that it marked the first official press briefing since March 11, 2019 as her predecessor, Stephanie Grisham, never actually held one. And McEnany said she plans to continue with the practice that was common when Sarah Sanders held the job. “I will never lie to you. You have my word on that,” she told the reporters gathered at the White House on Friday. What happened next shouldn’t surprise anyone. McEnany proceeded to sprinkle her answers with falsehoods and lies.

The first notable falsehood peddled by the press secretary was concerning the news of the day, former Vice President Joe Biden’s staunch denial of sexual assault allegations by Tara Reade. Trump had said Reade’s accusations were “far more compelling” than those made against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and McEnany was asked to comment. “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. But of course, there’s no way you could actually accurately characterize the accusations against Kavanaugh as “verifiably false.”

McEnany also blasted reporters for asking questions about sexual assault allegations against Trump. “Leave it to the media to really take an issue about the former vice president and turn it on the president and bring up accusations from four years ago,” she said. Except, of course, the allegations against Trump aren’t all from four years ago and there have been plenty of new ones since he took office, including one from E. Jean Carroll, who said last year that Trump assaulted her in a store in the mid-1990s.

The new White House press secretary also wasn’t quite truthful when asked about fired national security adviser Michael Flynn and new FBI notes that administration officials say is evidence about how the investigation was mishandled. At the heart of the issue is a handwritten note from Bill Priestap, who was then the counterintelligence director at the FBI. “We have a handwritten FBI note that says, quote, we need to get Flynn to lie, quote, and get him fired,” McEnany said. Except that’s not what the note says. Priestap actually wrote: “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” Flynn is currently trying to withdraw his guilty plea for lying to the FBI.

For now at least, it seems McEnany will continue having the same complicated relationship with the truth as her predecessors.