In her first press briefing since October 1, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeated several old falsehoods around voting, the coronavirus and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference.
McEnany also made the flatly incorrect claim that there was not an orderly transfer of power from Barack Obama’s administration to then President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming administration.
Transfer of power
McEnany claimed that Trump “was never given an orderly transition of power.”
Facts First: This is false. Unlike the current administration, where the General Services Administration is blocking Biden’s transition team from access to government tools and resources – the Obama administration never denied Trump’s victory and transitioned power to the incoming administration.
The Obama administration cooperated with Trump’s transition team.
To make her point, McEnany tried to argue the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election – a probe that later morphed into the Mueller investigation – constituted a lack of an “orderly transition.” But the investigation did not stall or block the Trump transition team.
McEnany again spread the baseless idea that mail-in ballots are susceptible to widespread fraud and suggested “there are real questions” over large scale mail-in voting.
Facts First: Election experts have told CNN time and time again that mail-in ballots are a safe form of voting and not subject to widespread fraud. There have been no reports from state election officials of either party of widespread voter fraud from mail-in ballots.
On November 12, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a statement calling this year’s election “the most secure in American history.”
On November 17, Trump fired Chris Krebs, the director of the CISA, who continually debunked claims of widespread voter fraud following the election. In his tweet announcing Krebs’ removal, Trump falsely claimed Krebs made “highly inaccurate” claims about the security of the 2020 election.
McEnany also claimed that initial projections placed the number of potential Covid-19 deaths in the US at two million, adding “we are far below the 2 million that this could have been.”
Facts First: This is misleading.
Like Trump, McEnany is probably referencing a report posted in March by scholars from the Imperial College in London that predicted that a total of 2.2 million Americans could die from Covid-19 if no preventative measures were installed on any level of society.
In other words, that would be the loss of lives if no action were taken at all to mitigate the virus.
The report did not analyze what would happen if just the federal government took no action against the virus but rather what would occur if there were absolutely no “control measures or spontaneous changes in individual behaviour.”
McEnany claimed the investigation led by Mueller “exonerated President Trump.”
Facts First: This is false.
Mueller did not exonerate Trump. In fact, Mueller’s final report explains that there was strong evidence that Trump obstructed justice, on several occasions. But Mueller decided not to make a decision on whether to charge Trump, for many reasons, including Department of Justice policy that a president “cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional.”
The Mueller report also stated if his office “had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”