White House scraps Monday coronavirus briefing

The White House on Monday canceled a coronavirus task force briefing that had been previously scheduled for 5 p.m., marking the third day without such a briefing. 

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News that Trump would hold a press availability during a meeting with industry executives scheduled for Monday afternoon instead of holding a briefing. McEnany also insisted there was not an effort to cut back on briefings while also suggesting the president may appear less frequently at them. She said the task force would brief the media later this week.

“We’re looking at different ways to showcase this president leading,” she said on Fox News. “The briefing is a key component of that. We will have briefings this week. But again, the media needs to not read into what’s happening and look at this as an opportunity for the president to speak to the American people.”

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“Make no mistake, the president will be briefing the American people this week. Millions and millions tune in to watch him and see his leadership,” McEnany added.

Her remarks followed a weekend during which the White House did not hold a briefing on the coronavirus, a departure from past weekends when Trump and other officials had briefed the media.

The original White House guidance for both Trump and Vice President Pence listed an on-camera briefing with the coronavirus task force at 5 p.m on Monday. Shortly after McEnany’s interview, the White House issued updated guidance removing the briefing.

The decision to remove the briefing from the schedule comes after the president endured a torrent of criticism over remarks he delivered on Thursday at a briefing suggesting medical experts study the use of disinfectants to treat COVID-19. Trump has since claimed he made the remarks in jest.

Trump signaled in a tweet over the weekend that he saw reason to forgo future briefings, questioning their purpose while accusing the media of inaccurately reporting his remarks.

“What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately. They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!” Trump tweeted Saturday.