McEnany proceeded to say a bunch of things that weren’t true.
Whether they were deliberate lies or inadvertent false claims, we can’t be certain; since it was her first time at the podium after being hired in April, we’ll be generous in our choice of words. Regardless of her intentions, though, her comments were laden with inaccuracies.
McEnany defends Flynn by misquoting FBI notes
After taking questions about coronavirus, McEnany turned to the legal saga of Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser who resigned after a few weeks on the job in 2017 and pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts.
As part of his plea bargain, Flynn cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller, but he’s back in Trump’s good graces after publicly disavowing his guilty plea and accusing the Justice Department of anti-Trump misconduct.
McEnany referred to some of those documents Friday.
“We have a handwritten FBI note that says, quote, ‘we need to get Flynn to lie,’ quote, and get him fired,” McEnany said. “There is an unfair target on the back of General Michael Flynn. It should concern every American, anytime there is a partisan pursuit of an individual.”
Facts First: The FBI notes do raise serious new questions about the Flynn case, but McEnany misquoted them in a way that makes them look much more damning than they actually are. She ignored parts of the notes that undercut Trump’s cherry-picked narrative, and added the phrase “we need” before “to get him to lie,” even though she said it was a word-for-word quote.
Also, McEnany’s claims that Flynn was politically targeted are not supported by the facts. A federal judge recently ruled that there wasn’t a partisan plot against Flynn, and the Justice Department watchdog concluded that the Flynn investigation was opened without bias.
The newly unsealed files — FBI emails and handwritten notes — shed new light on how FBI officials carefully prepared to interview Flynn in January 2017, when he was national security adviser. Investigators had reviewed US intelligence intercepts of Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador, and those transcripts contradicted public comments from several top Trump officials that Flynn never discussed sanctions with the Russians.
Flynn supporters point to one note where an FBI official asks, “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
At the press briefing on Friday, McEnany’s misquote of the line makes it look like the FBI was dead-set on coercing Flynn to lie.
A closer examination of the documents shows this is not necessarily the case. The newly public information is not a clear-cut breakthrough for Flynn. Other notes reveal that the FBI planned to refresh Flynn’s memory to give him a chance to correct his statement and potentially avoid a criminal charge.
McEnany exaggerates the cost and outcome of the Mueller investigation
In discussing Flynn, McEnany said: “I’ve seen a whole lot of scant information about Michael Flynn, when there was speculation about Russia, Russia, Russia, culminating in $40 million of taxpayer money being lost in a complete and total exoneration of President Trump.”
“… while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” the report said.
McEnany wrongly describes Trump’s tweet about Michigan protesters
McEnany responded: “The President was referencing generally that in this country you have a First Amendment right to protest.”
Facts First: Trump’s tweet did not make any reference to the First Amendment or the general right to protest. He simply praised opponents of the restrictions — though he did not specify whether he was referring to armed militia members or any of the others — and urged Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to make concessions to them.
Trump and the intelligence community’s stance on coronavirus
McEnany attempted to further clarify the White House’s stance on the origins of the outbreak by suggesting that the President and the intelligence community are in agreement, despite apparent contradictions in recent statements.
Referring to a statement the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a few hours before the President took questions Thursday at the White House on coronavirus, McEnany added, “The intelligence community statement stands. It’s in perfect concert with what the President said.”
While the intelligence community is looking into whether the outbreak was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan, the statement released by the ODNI, on behalf of the entire intelligence community, made it clear they do not have enough information to confidently assess whether that was the case or if the pandemic began “through contact with infected animals.”
The statement also noted that the intelligence community “concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.”