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Trump's new press secretary vows never to lie from podium in first briefing, before making series of misleading claims

President sees federal aid as 'negotiating point' with 'sanctuary cities' that he opposes, Kayleigh McEnany says

John T. Bennett
Friday 01 May 2020 20:24 BST
Trump's new press secretary vows never to lie from podium

Donald Trump's latest press secretary on Friday promised reporters during her first briefing to never utter a lie from behind the familiar blue lectern with the White House seal behind it, and signalled the president is intent on seeking changes from "sanctuary cities" in return for federal coronavirus assistance.

"I will never lie to you. You have my word on that," Kayleigh McEnany, a former Trump campaign spokeswoman, told reporters during the first formal briefing by a press secretary in over a year. She went on to make a series of false and misleading statements.

The president, now on his fourth press secretary, has uttered over 18,000 false or misleading statements himself, according to a Washington Post analysis that is updated regularly.

His first two press secretaries, Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, were accused of making false and misleading statements anytime they held formal press briefings. His third, Stephanie Grisham, never held a former briefing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room.

Asked about a sexual assault allegation against former vice-president Joe Biden, Ms McEnany falsely claimed a similar allegation against Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh was "verifiably false".

Though the accusation by Christine Blasey Ford was never proven, it was also not disproved, and she was considered a credible accuser.

At one point, Ms McEnany appeared to contradict her new boss when she said he was "driven by data", a day after he said how he "feels" often is more important to him when making major decisions than "what I think."

Ms McEnany also said no American has died because they did not get access to a ventilator – but officials in states like New York have said otherwise.

Meantime, on the coronavirus outbreak, the new press secretary contended that Mr Trump's comments that he has seen evidence, which he has yet to release or describe, that the Covid-19 outbreak started in a laboratory in the Wuhan province in China is consistent with the conclusions of "some analysts".

But she did not say whether the experts she was citing work for US intelligence or other government agencies, and Mr Trump has repeatedly dismissed the findings of his own intel services since taking office.

As Mr Trump has said all week he does not want federal Covid-19 assistance dollars going to states with municipalities that are "sanctuary cities", meaning they allow undocumented migrants to stay there despite federal laws, his new press secretary denied warnings from Democrats he is asking for a quid pro quo.

"I'm not conditioning anything," she said of the president's stance on the matter. "But saying that is a negotiating point."

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