Press Briefing by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany - October 1, 2020
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room Washington, DC October 1, 2020 11:22 A.M. EDT
MS. MCENANY: Well, good morning, everyone. Three years ago today, 58 people lost their lives and hundreds more were wounded in the horrific Las Vegas music festival shooting. That was three years ago today. On behalf of the President and his administration, our hearts continue to break for the victims and their families. They are in our prayers today.
Fulfilling his Article 2, Section 2 obligation and following well-established precedent, President Trump nominated an eminently qualified candidate for the Supreme Court: Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Judge Barrett is extremely well qualified: She graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame Law School, where she received the Hoynes Prize for achieving the best record in scholarship, and she also is a Rhodes Scholar.
As Notre Dame Law Professor Carter Snead said, "There's just consensus: Amy Barrett is the best student, the smartest and most talented person to ever come through the University of Notre Dame Law School."
In addition to being a gifted student, Judge Barrett clerked for the D.C. - for D.C. Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman and the "Lion of the Court," Justice Antonin Scalia.
In 2017, Judge Barrett was confirmed in a bipartisan vote to serve on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In support of her 2017 nomination, colleagues described Judge Barrett as, quote, "a model of the fair, impartial, and sympathetic judge."
Judge Barrett is not only a qualified jurist but a woman of character. Judge Barrett is the devoted working mom of seven children, including two adopted children from Haiti and one child born with special needs. Judge Barrett is full of compassion and empathy, and she understands the needs of our nation's most vulnerable.
Judge Barrett would become the first-ever mother of school-aged children to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. If confirmed, Judge Barrett would be the only Republican-appointed woman on the Court and the fifth woman in the Court's history.
Her qualifications are many. Her character is unquestionable. Her devotion to the Constitution and interpreting the law as written is steadfast. Judge Amy Coney Barrett is the right choice to serve on the Supreme Court.
And with that, I will take questions. John.
Q Kayleigh, if I could start off, I'd like to ask you for a definitive and declarative statement, without ambiguity or deflection: As the person who speaks for the President, does the President denounce white supremacism and groups that espouse it in all their forms?
MS. MCENANY: This has been answered, yesterday by the President himself, the day before by the President himself on the debate stage. The President was asked this; he said "sure" three times. Yesterday, he was point-blank asked, "Do you denounce white supremacy?" And he said, "I've always denounced any form of that."
I can go back and read for you - in August 2019, "In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy." In August of 2017, "Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups." I have an entire list of these quotes that I can go through with you.
He has condemned white supremacy more than any President in modern history.
Q But just to clear it up this morning, can you - naming it - make a declarative statement that you denounce - that the President denounces it?
MS. MCENANY: I just did. The President has denounced this repeatedly.
Q You read a bunch of quotes from the past. Can you -
MS. MCENANY: The President was asked this. You're making - you're contriving a storyline and a narrative.
Q No, I'm not. I'm just asking you to put this to rest.
MS. MCENANY: He said - I just did. I read you all of the quotes. And if you -
Q You read me past quotes.
MS. MCENANY: - need to see them in writing -
Q Can you do it currently?
MS. MCENANY: - I will put them in an e-mail.
Q So, Kayleigh, could - can I just - can you, right now, denounce white supremacy and the groups that espouse it?
MS. MCENANY: I just did. The President has denounced -
Q You read a bunch of quotes from the past.
MS. MCENANY: - white supremacy, the KKK, and hate groups in all forms. He signed a resolution to that effect. The President just last week - perhaps you all weren't covering it - but just last week expressed his desire to see the KKK prosecuted as domestic terrorists. This President had advocated for the death penalty for a white supremacist, the first federal execution in 17 years.
His record on this is unmistakable, and it's shameful that the media refuses to cover it.
Q Kayleigh, thank you. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security say that racially motivated violent extremism is one of the deadliest threats that we face in the U.S. Does this White House agree with that assessment? And what is it doing to combat this threat?
MS. MCENANY: The President has done quite a bit to combat this threat. First of all, last week, he also - in addition to saying he wants to prosecute the KKK as domestic terrorists, he said that lynching should be a national hate crime. Again, I think there's no stronger signal that you can send than advocating for the execution of a white supremacist - the first time there's been a federal execution in 17 years. He's been unmistakable.
Q Saying you want to do it is different than actually doing it.
MS. MCENANY: He's continually condemned it, and it is really -
Q His record on this, to go to John's question, is mixed.
MS. MCENANY: It is really - it's -
Q He has condemned it. He has equivocated. At times -
MS. MCENANY: It is not mixed in the slightest.
Q - he said he didn't want to acknowledge it or address it. His record is very mixed on this issue.
MS. MCENANY: His record is not mixed in the slightest. And -
Q His record is very mixed.
MS. MCENANY: - when you go back in history, you can see that -
Q I have his history right here.
MS. MCENANY: When you go back in history, you can see that -
Q I have his quotes.
MS. MCENANY: - Jesse Jackson has praised the President -
Q It's mixed, Kayleigh. It's mixed.
MS. MCENANY: - as someone who served underserved communities. This President, with Mar-a-Lago, it was the first Palm Beach Club open to African Americans and Jews.
Q That's a part of his record, but his record is mixed.
MS. MCENANY: And, in fact, he was -
Q He has not been consistent on the issue of white supremacy.
MS. MCENANY: - he was praised. He has been entirely consistent.
Q So I'm asking you what has this White House done -
MS. MCENANY: And it is quite shameful -
Q - to combat what the FBI says -
MS. MCENANY: It is quite shameful -
Q - is one of the deadliest -
MS. MCENANY: Let me speak, Paula.
Q - threats in this country?
MS. MCENANY: Paula, we're not having a debate on a cable news network.
Q You're - you're - you're saying -
MS. MCENANY: Right now, you need to let me finish.
Q - that he condemns it. I have his record right here; it's mixed.
MS. MCENANY: You need to let me finish.
Q His record is mixed.
MS. MCENANY: It's quite funny that the media goes haywire about interrupting in debates and then chooses to pursue that very same tactic themselves. This is a White House briefing. You ask a question and you give me time to answer.
Q Kayleigh, the President said at the debate that Roe vs. Wade was not on the ballot and that Judge Amy Coney Barrett's view was not known. She signed a newspaper ad in 2006, which called for, quote, "an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe vs. Wade." And the President has explicitly promised to support judges that overturn Roe. Was he downplaying her views on Tuesday night? And what do you say to the American public about whether Roe is on the ballot?
MS. MCENANY: The President has been clear that he would never ask a judge to prejudge a case. Judge Amy Coney Barrett has, on multiple occasions, said it is never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge's personal convictions, whether they derive from faith or anywhere else, on the law. She said that she continues to stand and vehemently believe the core proposition: If there is ever a conflict between a judge's personal conviction and that judge's duty under the rule of law, it is never, ever permissible for that judge to follow their personal convictions in the decision of a case, rather than what the law requires.
Q Kayleigh, does the President expect her to overturn Roe? He has said he would only appoint judges that overturn Roe.
MS. MCENANY: The Pres- - the President would never ask the judge to prejudge a case.
And what I would also say is we fully expect that the Ginsburg rule be followed throughout the course of these proceedings. It was then-Senator Joe Biden who set the Ginsburg rule in saying that there are no questions on how Ginsburg will decide any specific cases that may come before her. And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg indeed applied that rule throughout the course of her hearing on the First Amendment religion clause -
Q Then why did he say that her views are not known? They are very clear.