New White House press secretary vows never to lie at inaugural briefing

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany in her first formal briefing said Friday that she would never lie to the press.

“I will never lie to you. You have my word on that,” McEnany said when asked by a reporter if she would pledge to never lie to the White House press corps from the podium.


McEnany took the podium in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room for the first time on Friday, just weeks after assuming the role as press secretary. Friday’s briefing marked the first briefing from the press secretary in over a year.

Standing at the podium for just over 30 minutes, McEnany fielded questions from every reporter in the room. Topics included the coronavirus and China, the case of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and sexual assault allegations against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenPresidents and 'presidents' Biden to blast Trump's church photo op in Philadelphia speech Rudy Giuliani calls on Cuomo to remove Bill de Blasio MORE.

McEnany rarely veered off script, offering a consistent and robust defense of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE with each of her answers. She sparred lightly with journalists and praised her boss.


McEnany avoided any talk of testing shortages or her own history of downplaying the coronavirus when asked about Trump’s pronouncements that his administration has done a “spectacular” job responding to the crisis even as the disease has killed more than 63,000 in the U.S.

“The fact that this president can look the American people in the eye and say ‘I am producing 100,000 ventilators this year’ … I’d consider that a great success on behalf of the American people,” she said.

McEnany dodged a question about whether Trump still believes Flynn lied to Vice President Pence, which prompted his firing in 2017, instead highlighting new developments in his case that raised questions about how the FBI questioned him.

“Doesn’t that trouble you as a journalist? And not only that, as an American citizen?” she asked ABC News anchor Jonathan Karl.

The briefing opened with a video of Trump meeting with small business owners and employees at the White House and ended with McEnany urging Americans to watch the president’s Fox News virtual town hall on Sunday, which will be televised live from the Lincoln Memorial.


“It’ll be can’t-miss television, much like the highly rated President Trump coronavirus task force briefings have been,” she said.

McEnany, a former Trump campaign spokeswoman, was brought on to replace Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamPence names new press secretary McEnany: Prayer 'made a lot of difference' in 2016 election McEnany stamps her brand on White House press operation MORE as press secretary as part of a broader shuffle of the communications team executed by new chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsHow Trump cleared the park around the White House for church photo op Trump visits historic DC church after protesters cleared with tear gas Trump to return to Florida for rescheduled SpaceX launch MORE in early April. 

Her first briefing came as the White House has shifted its messaging following a month's worth of daily coronavirus task force briefings, where Trump was joined by public health officials to discuss the pandemic.

But advisers warned Trump to curtail his appearances, particularly after he suggested experts study injecting disinfectants as a potential cure. The health officials have still appeared on television, but have not held a briefing in the week since. Instead, the focus has been more on the economy as some states begin lifting restrictions on businesses intended to slow the spread of the virus.

McEnany didn’t commit to holding daily briefings of her own, but said that she planned to continue to brief the press and that details on timing would be forthcoming. 

“We do plan to do them,” McEnany said. 

Prior White House press secretaries have had combative relationships with the media and offered inaccurate statements from the podium.

Trump’s first press secretary, Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerBiden campaign cancels fundraiser with Mueller prosecutor McEnany stamps her brand on White House press operation Flynn was guilty and the government could prove it MORE, was mocked on “Saturday Night Live” for his barbs with the media and at times shaky performances. He opened his tenure by falsely claiming that Trump enjoyed the largest inauguration crowd in history.

Sarah HuckabeeSarah Elizabeth SandersMcEnany stamps her brand on White House press operation Sanders mocks NY Times urging DNC to investigate Biden allegations: 'I thought it was an Onion headline' Donald Trump: The Boomer TV president MORE Sanders admitted to former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s team of investigators that she lied to reporters when she said at a briefing that she’d heard from countless members of the FBI who supported the firing of former Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyRosenstein steps back into GOP crosshairs The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US This week: Senate reconvenes as protests roil nation amid pandemic MORE.

Sanders oversaw the end to the daily briefing; her last formal briefing with reporters occurred in March 2019. Grisham, who held the post for less than a year, never held a formal briefing from White House briefing room.