Oct 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

McEnany spars with reporters over whether Trump condemned white supremacy

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany clashed repeatedly with members of the media on Thursday over whether or not President Trump has forcefully condemned white supremacy, at one pointing accusing CNN's Kaitlan Collins of asking a "partisan attack question."

Why it matters: It was one of the most confrontational press conferences yet by a White House press secretary brought in for the express purpose of sparring with a Washington press corps that the president has attacked as "the enemy of the people."

Driving the news: Fox News reporter John Roberts opened the Q&A portion of the briefing by asking whether McEnany could provide a "declarative statement" explicitly condemning white supremacy on behalf of Trump.

  • Instead, she pointed to past statements Trump has made denouncing the KKK and advocating for the death penalty for a white supremacist, claiming the president's "record on this is unmistakable and it's shameful the media refuses to cover it."

Key exchange:

COLLINS: "When the president was asked about [the Proud Boys] and you say he denounced them. That's what you are insisting that he did on the debate stage the other night. If that's the case, then why are they celebrating what the president said on the debate stage in front of millions of people?"
MCENANY: "I don't speak for that group, so I'm not sure why you're asking me why they're saying certain things."
COLLINS: "If someone denounced you, you probably wouldn't put it on a T-shirt and make badges of it, right?"
MCENANY: "The president did denounce them. He was asked, 'Will you tell them to stand down?' He said, 'Sure.' He said, 'Stand back.' And then just yesterday when he was asked, he said specifically, 'Stand down,' a synonym with 'stand back.' And the president said 'sure' when asked by the moderator whether they should stand down. It's really interesting too to see the media seems to be the only one putting the names of these groups into headlines, into media reporting. He didn't know who the Proud Boys were."

Go deeper: The array of far-right groups "standing by" after Trump's call

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