She was asked whether the president still has faith in Attorney General William P. Barr, after he told the Associated Press that his department hadn’t seen evidence of widespread voter fraud. She replied: “The president, if he has any personnel announcements, you will be the first to know it.”
She was then asked if the president has spoken with Barr since the AP’s story. She replied, “I’m not aware if they’ve spoken. I know the attorney general was here yesterday for a preplanned meeting with the chief of staff and they discussed an array of issues, but I’m not aware if the president has spoken to him directly.”
She was asked if the president has spoken with attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani about issuing any preemptive pardons. She replied, “I’ve heard no mention of any pardons in any conversations I’ve had in the White House other than the pardon of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a three-star general who I’ve discussed from this podium before.”
She was asked if the president was going to announce his 2024 presidential candidacy at a pre-inaugural event. She replied, “I’ve not heard any discussions of that. I’m aware of the reporting, but the president’s campaign is currently pursuing active litigation, and that is the focus, at least at the moment.”
She was asked if Trump would indeed run again. She replied, “I haven’t spoken to him about that — again, his campaign is pursuing litigation. I would redirect you to the campaign.”
She was asked whether Trump would make good on his pre-election threat to fire Anthony S. Fauci, the long-serving director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. She replied, “I’ve heard no discussions of that. Dr. Fauci’s still hard at work on the task force.”
She was asked whether the president was upset about Barr’s election comments. She replied, “I haven’t spoken with the president specifically about AG Barr or that comment.”
She was asked whether the president was really considering skipping out on the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. She replied, “I’ll leave that to the president to make his announcement. He tweeted something to the effect of he knows what his decision is and he’ll make his decision at the right time.”
She was asked what rationale the president could have for such a move. She replied, “I’m not going to speculate on the president’s decision. I’ll leave that to him.”
She was asked whether Biden’s expression of support for FBI Director Christopher A. Wray would have any impact on Trump’s views. She replied, “Yeah, he’s made no assessments, at least in my presence, about that. And if we have any personnel announcements, we’ll let you know.”
She was asked whether Trump has had discussions with Capitol Hill allies about challenging Biden’s electoral college victory. She replied, “Not that I’m aware of.”
She was asked whether Trump had plans to discuss China trade issues with Biden prior to the transfer of power. She replied, “I’m not aware of any plans of that at the moment, but if I — if I do, I’ll let you know.”
Sure: There were some moments in the briefing when McEnany spoke with certainty — such as the president’s distaste for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act; the administration’s condemnation of threats to election workers in Georgia and the White House’s planned holiday celebrations; and the false declaration that the president “honored World AIDS Day yesterday in a way that no president has before, with the red ribbon there.” (Both President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush placed a large red ribbon in the front of the White House.)
But it’s hard to overstate just how useless is a press secretary who’s frequently not “aware” of discussions and developments and policy changes. When McEnany, for instance, says she’s not aware of any discussions between Trump and congressional allies on the election challenges, she’s neither confirming nor denying that they exist. Which is to say, her input has no value whatsoever. There are millions of Americans who are also not “aware” of such discussions, but they’re not paid $183,000 to speak for the president.
When was the last time she spoke with Trump — and what, if anything, was discussed? That’s what we wanted to know. McEnany hasn’t yet replied to our inquiry. So we have no way to confirm that she’s aware of it.
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