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Press Briefing by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany - September 3, 2020

Press Release:

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room  •  Washington D.C.  •  September 3, 2020  •  1:11 P.M. EDT

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany expresses herself: Above.     Photo was supplied by the White House staff.    Click image to expand.

    MS. MCENANY: Good afternoon, everyone. Two briefings ago I asked: "Where is Nancy Pelosi?" Today, I can announce: We have found Nancy Pelosi. As you can see, we found Nancy Pelosi going into her hair salon. We will be playing the video on loop for all of you to see during the duration of this introduction.

    Nancy Pelosi was not in the halls of Congress when I asked where she was. She was not working in good faith to make a deal for the American people. Nope. Nancy Pelosi was found in San Francisco, at a hair salon, where she was indoors, even though salons in California are not - only open for outdoor service. Apparently, the rules do not apply to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She wants small businesses to stay shut down but only reopen for her convenience. "Do as I say, not as I do," says Nancy Pelosi.

    Nancy Pelosi is holding up $1.3 trillion in relief for the American people, while getting special access to the very kind of small businesses that this money would support, businesses like this hair salon.

    Before she skipped town to violate her state's health guidelines, Pelosi proposed a bill. It was called the HEROES Act, which contained no additional Paycheck Protection funding. This is funding that would help the very small business she has bizarrely accused of plotting against her.

    The President sees through Democrats' disregard for Americans in need, and he took action, unilaterally, on his own accord. He provided relief from evictions. He provided unemployment insurance. He paused student loan payments. And he cut the payroll tax, putting money in American people's pockets.

    Congress also failed to authorize funding to provide children with free lunches for the 2020-2021 school year.

    And again, President Trump, with Senior Advisor Ivanka Trump, took action. And now USDA has extended a summer program which will ensure children continue to have access to free meals through the end of the year.

    Nancy Pelosi is demanding an apology from a single mother and small-business owner who has received threats since Nancy Pelosi's comments against her salon. Salon owner Erica Kious said this: "Since this happened, I have received nothing but hate text messages, death threats, saying they're going to burn down my hair salon. It's just sad that my community is pulling this, saying that I threw her under the bus when I did not. So, that's hurtful. But, yes, I think I'm pretty much done now."

    Nancy Pelosi, you ought to apologize to the American people, or better yet, come back to Washington and get to work for hardworking Americans like this salon owner that you maligned and demanded an apology from.

    And with that, I'll take questions.

    Yes, Jon.

    Q Kayleigh, do you acknowledge that it is illegal in this country to vote twice in the same election?

    MS. MCENANY: Are you referring to the President's comments earlier today?

    Q I'm just asking you a basic yes or no question: Do you -

    MS. MCENANY: The President - the President does not -

    Q - do you believe it is illegal to vote twice in this country?

    MS. MCENANY: The President does not condone unlawful voting. The President has been very clear about this. I'm, once again, not surprised the media is taking the President out of context. Do you recall what the President said on this matter, specifically?

    Q I have it - I have it right here. Sure.

    MS. MCENANY: Okay, maybe you should read it out for me then.

    Q Okay, so the President said that you should go to your poll - you should vote early by mail and you should go either early voting or day of and try to vote again. So, he is asking people to vote by mail and then to go down to the polling place on Election Day and to vote again, if their vote has - if they can't confirm their vote has been counted.


    MS. MCENANY: You're missing a very crucial line from the President's remarks: "If it is not tabulated," meaning your mail-in vote, then you're able to vote in person. "If it is not tabulated." This is why -

    Q Kayleigh, but there are at least five states in this country that do not count any mail-in votes until Election Day. So those votes won't be counted until afterwards. So there's no way to know whether or not their vote is counted.

    MS. MCENANY: There's a very simple answer, and this is how it works: First, a lot of states have what are called "electronic poll books," and what this means is that, in real time, this is updated. So if your vote is counted, they check the electronic poll book, and you will not be able to vote in person because your vote has been counted.

    There's a secondary situation. So those who do not have electronic poll books - every single state in the country, you can cast a provisional ballot, and that is a ballot that is there. And if your - if your vote that you have not mailed in is not counted, they will then count the provisional ballot. And that is exactly what the President is referring to.

    But what Democrats are doing is saying this: We want an entire new system for voting, one subject to fraud. Don't take it from me; take it from Jimmy Carter, who said in 2005, as part of a bipartisan commission, "Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud." So what Democrats want you to do is say, "Trust us, but don't verify. Don't verify that your vote has been counted."

    This President is trying to enfranchise Americans, which is exactly what he's been saying. He wants every American to have a vote, because he understands what Jimmy Carter understood and what so many of us understood - until the President started putting the focus on mail-in voting - and that was this: That it is subject to fraud, every vote should count, and every American should verify that their vote is counted by going to their polling location.

    Q But what do you say to the executive director of the -

    MS. MCENANY: John.

    Q - of the North Carolina Board of Electors who says that this would be - create a big problem on Election Night?

    MS. MCENANY: What I would say is that the President has laid it out very clearly: You should verify your vote. And not only that, I would point them to the fact that, in 2016, before we tried this entire new system of mass mail-out voting, 319,000 votes were not counted that were cast by mail - 319,000 - in an election that came down, really, to 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. That's untenable. And hundreds, thousands more will not be counted with the Democrats' fraudulent mass mail-out voting system. The President wants enfranchisement, plain and simple.


    Q Can I ask a process and jurisdiction question? The President signed a memorandum last night directing federal agencies to look at funds that might be withheld to city as - to cities that do not do enough to restore law and order. By what authority does the President believe he can do that?

    MS. MCENANY: Yeah, the President believes that what we should do - that the purpose of government is to protect life, liberty, and property; that is the purpose of the federal government. And it's imperative that the federal government review the use of funds by jurisdiction.

    So what this does - this memo - it really does three things: One, it asks federal agencies to detail all federal funds that are being provided to Seattle, Portland, New York City, and Washington, D.C. Secondly, within 14 days, the Attorney General will develop a list of anarchist jurisdictions of lawlessness zones that are permitting violence and destruction of property. And then within 30 days, the White House budget director will "issue guidance to the heads of agencies on restricting eligibility of or otherwise disfavoring, to the maximum extent [possible] by law, anarchists jurisdictions in the receipt of federal grants..."


    And South Carolina [Dakota] v. Dole did note that you can withhold funding so long as it pertains to - the federal program pertains to what you're trying to incentivize. So we believe here, when you look at New York, a 177 percent increase in shootings; in Seattle, where there was a lawless CHOP zone where two died; in Portland, where you've seen 140 officers injured: This is a dereliction of duty.

    And if the states will not act in their police power and secure their streets, this President will use every lawful mechanism available to him to try to supplement their failures. And in some cases, that's meant federal officers - in Minneapolis, in Kenosha, where we've been invited. This is yet another attempt to make sure no more children like LeGend Taliferro die on our streets.

    Q These are congressionally appropriated funds. I expect that you would expect there to be immediate legal action taken. Letitia James, the attorney general for the State of New York, warned a few minutes ago that if you tried to withhold any funds, she will immediately slap you with a lawsuit.

    MS. MCENANY: Well, she's free to do that. We believe that what we will do will be lawful, within the bounds of the law, and we encourage states to act and cities to act the way that Kenosha and Minneapolis did, although be it delayed a little bit there. They finally stepped up and asked for federal support, and they got it, because too many Americans are dying on our streets, too many businesses being burned to the ground. That's not the American way by a longshot.


    Q Kayleigh, just to follow up on that: The President, as we know, tried to withhold federal money from sanctuary cities, and he lost, as per the course. So why isn't this also doomed to fail?

    MS. MCENANY: I'm not going to get ahead of exactly what the final product will look like. Again, I just walked you through. There's a 14-day timeline for the DOJ and then a 30-day timeline for the Office of Management and Budget. But we believe that we are in the right here.

    Q Let me do a couple follows, if I can. So, in May, the President said the U.S. will be designating Antifa as a terrorist organization. Yes or no? Did the President do that?

    MS. MCENANY: What the DOJ said is that they would be looking at Antifa-related charges in the lens of domestic terrorism.

    Q So, to be clear, they did not designate Antifa, though?


    MS. MCENANY: To be clear, they will be pursuing domestic terrorism charges against Antifa individuals, anarchists who are wreaking havoc across our country and who the suspect, at least in Portland, killed an innocent man out in Portland, just over the weekend.

    Q Right. For sure. And then in 20 - but they didn't declare them a terrorist organization as they said - as he said they would.

    MS. MCENANY: They will be pursuing domestic terror charges. You're noting a distinction without a difference.

    Q In 2017, he threatened to withhold federal funds from UC-Berkeley if they did not allow free speech. Has he done that?

    MS. MCENANY: I'll have to - I'll follow up with you on that.


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