Press Briefing by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany | 9/16/20
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room Washington, DC September 16, 2020 1:30 P.M. EDT
Transitioning to a much more somber topic and one that is very important to the President, I want to talk a little bit about our police officers.
Fourteen months ago, two deputies with the Los Angeles Police Department were sworn in to protect and serve their community. This past Saturday, these two deputies were ambushed. While sitting in their patrol car in Compton, California, a suspect approached the passenger-side window, took aim, and fired multiple shots at point-blank range into the patrol car.
"I've been shot. Send help," begged one of the deputies over 911. This was a cowardly, brazen, and unprovoked attack against law enforcement. One of the deputies attacked was a 31-year-old mother of a 6-year-old boy. She was seen on security footage attending to the wounds of her partner, despite being shot in the jaw and arm herself. She is a true hero.
Rushed to the hospital, these two deputies were targeted yet again. The L.A. County Sheriffs tweeted this: "To the protesters blocking the entrance & exit of the HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM yelling 'We hope they die' referring to 2 LA Sheriff's ambushed today in #Compton..." they said this: "DO NOT BLOCK EMERGENCY ENTRIES & EXITS TO THE HOSPITAL. People's lives are at stake." Truly despicable behavior from those protesters.
People's lives are indeed at stake. And it is truly, quote, "a double miracle," as the Los Angeles Sheriff, Alex Villanueva, described it, that these two deputies are alive today.
Targeting a police officer is an assault against your community. It is an assault against law and order. It is antithetical to what we value as Americans.
We all remember the disastrous impact of the Ferguson effect. We do not want to see a repeat today. "Defund the police" is not just dangerous policy; it is a poisonous ideology. We must respect our police, not revolt against them.
In the past 24 hours alone, we've seen law enforcement targeted across the country - this is in 24 hours: In Phoenix - in Phoenix, a U.S. Marshal was ambushed and shot outside a federal courthouse in a drive-by shooting. In Lynwood, California, a suspect approached a patrol car and fired a handgun into the passenger-side window. In Suffolk, Virginia, a suspect opened fire on a marked police car, hitting the vehicle three times. This is within 24 hours.
These acts are despicable. Rhetoric such as "defund the police" is likely to have negative consequences for law enforcement across the country, threatening the safety of our communities.
As Los Angeles Sheriff Villanueva warned, the ambush in Compton is a, quote, "sober reminder. It's a dangerous job." "Actions, words have consequences," he said. "Our job does not get any easier because people do not like law enforcement. It pisses me off," he said. "It dismays me at the same time. There's no pretty way to say it."
The President wants law and order, which is the best way to ensure peace on our streets. And he wants our police to be respected and protected.
And with that, I'll take questions. Yes.
Q Kayleigh, thank you so much. I have two questions, if you don't mind. The first one is about masks. This morning, CDC Director Robert Redfield testified that masks are more guaranteed to protect people from COVID than a vaccine.
Last night, the President continued to question their use. So why is he sending mixed messages about something that doctors say can save lives?
MS. MCENANY: The President has always supported mask wearing, and he's made many comments to that effect from this podium.
Yesterday, he was pointing to a quote that even Dr. Fauci has noted, which is that masks can have unintended consequences. While we support wearing them and they're - it's patriotic to do so, the unintended consequences can be inappropriate usage, touching the mask, and then going on and touching something else. So the President very vividly described that unintended consequence that can come if not worn appropriately.
Q And secondly, on September 3rd, you said, "The herd immunity so-called theory was something made up by the fanciful minds of the media. That was never something that was ever considered here at the White House." But last night, the President said that the country would eventually achieve "herd mentality" - I believe he meant immunity - to explain how the virus would, quote, "go away."
So did the White House shift its position about this in the past two weeks since you made those comments? And what is the position about using it as a strategy?
MS. MCENANY: Herd immunity has never been a strategy here at the White House. The President last night was noting herd immunity is over a period of time. A country, a society, can reach herd immunity. It's a fact. It was not a strategy ever presented here at the White House. And, in fact, he went on in that very same exchange to say, with the vaccine, this "will go away very quickly," noting our strategy is to get a vaccine. And we will do so at the fastest rate for a novel pathogen.
Q So he doesn't agree with Dr. Atlas's view that everyone should just catch it and then we'll move on?
MS. MCENANY: That's not Dr. Atlas's view. Dr. Atlas - I'm with him every day. He's never proposed herd immunity as a strategy, nor has the President.
Q A couple of other questions on COVID, if I could. Have any members of the White House staff recently tested positive for coronavirus?
MS. MCENANY: I don't share people's personal medical information.
Q But we have had - we've heard in the past when that has been the case. Why the change?
MS. MCENANY: I've seen the reporting out there, but again, I'm not here to give people's personal identities. In the past, when I've discussed a case, unfortunately, that individual's name was leaked to the media.
Q Okay. Secondly, something else that Dr. Redfield said was that while some people in high-risk categories may receive a vaccine by the end of the year, it would likely not be until the end of the second quarter or the third quarter before vaccinations were widely available. Is the President okay with that timeline, or does he want to see a vaccine more widely available earlier than that?
MS. MCENANY: We're still of the belief that we will have a vaccine by the end of the year. Operation Warp Speed has made it clear that their goal is to have more than 100 million doses. We're manufacturing in advance to make that a possibility. So -
Q Right, and he indicated that. But it was the idea of the vaccine being more widely available, like the flu vaccine, not until possibly next summer or maybe even early fall.
MS. MCENANY: We do believe that it will be widely available by the end of the year. It's why we partnered with Sanofi, GSK, Pfizer, and now Johnson & Johnson with the billion- dollar contracts to manufacture 100 million doses. So we still feel that we're on the right timeline.
Q Right. When you say "widely available," do you mean to everyone or just people in high-risk groups?
MS. MCENANY: Look, I'm not going to engage in a hypothetical, but it's our goal to have at least 100 million in production by the end of the year.
Q I have two questions. You said that the President was talking about wearing a mask improperly last night, touching it, referring to what Dr. Fauci has said. But he said, quote, "There are people that don't think masks are good." That's clearly not what the CDC director thinks, since he said today that masks are an "important, powerful public health tool we have. They could be even more protective against COVID than a vaccine."
So have any medical experts told the President that masks aren't good? Or is he only citing non-medical experts, like he did last night?
MS. MCENANY: He's referring to the fact that, when used appropriately, they can have unintended consequences, much like what Dr. Fauci said. It's not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is, and oftentimes there are unintended consequences.
So the President agrees with Dr. Fauci that mask wearing is good; it's recommended. The President has continually recommended it from this podium, but he was just pointing out some of the unintended consequences if not used appropriately.
Q Okay. But he didn't say that. He just said there are people that think masks aren't -
MS. MCENANY: No, he did. Go on - do you have his whole exchange? Would you like to read it out?
Q There - I mean, I watched it last night.
MS. MCENANY: Where he went and talked about -
Q There - he said there are people who don't think masks are good. He didn't say "improperly" or anything like that.
MS. MCENANY: Kaitlan, he went on and very - unfortunately, a bunch of you are very keen on doing selective editing of the President's quotes and not referring to the second half.
Directly under that statement, he talked about a waiter touching the mask and then touching a plate, and that being an unintended effect of wearing a mask that is an example of a mask not being used to appropriately.
Q Yeah, he said waiters don't think masks are good, but he didn't cite any medical experts.
MS. MCENANY: And he described - he described the exact scenario in which a mask can have an unintended consequence if not used appropriately. And we can send you the clip; we'll put it up on Twitter for you.
Q No, I watched it. That's okay. I was just wanted to see if there was any medical experts who have said that.
On the health- -
MS. MCENANY: And they have, and I just read Dr. Fauci's quote. So, go ahead.
Q Yes, I've read Dr. Fauci's quotes.
On the healthcare plan, the Chief of Staff said today that there is going to be one unveiled before the election - the one that the President has been promising for over a year now, long before then. But today, on Capitol Hill, the three top medical experts in this administration said they have no idea of any kind of plan that's being formulated. So who is it that is working on the healthcare plan that's going to be introduced before the election?
MS. MCENANY: So, here at the White House, we have a wide array of people working on it. There have been elements of it that have already come out, like that telemedicine plan, the drug importation EO. The "most favored nations" were elements of what is an overarching plan. There's more that will be forthcoming.
And, in aggregate, it's going to be a very comprehensive strategy - one where we're saving healthcare while Democrats are trying to take healthcare away. We're making healthcare better and cheaper, guaranteeing protections for people with preexisting conditions, stopping surprise medical billing, increasing transparency, defending the right to keep your doctor and your plan, fighting lobbyists and special interests, and making healthier and making - finding cures to diseases. And those are the principles that will animate multiple stakeholders -
Q But who is working on it is my question.
MS. MCENANY: - multiple stakeholders here at the White House who work on policies.
Q But not the CDC director or -
MS. MCENANY: So our Domestic Policy Council and others are working on a healthcare plan.
Q Not the CDC director? Not Bob Kadlec? Not Admiral Giroir? None of them have any idea about the healthcare plan, they said.
MS. MCENANY: I'm not going to give you a readout of what our healthcare plan looks like and who's working on it.
Q I'm just wondering who is working on it.
MS. MCENANY: If you want to know - if you want to know, come work here at the White House.
Q Kayleigh, I just wanted to know who's working on it.
MS. MCENANY: Yes. Stakeholders here in the White House. And, as I told you, our Domestic Policy Council and others in the White House are working on a healthcare plan, the President's vision for the next five years.