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 BidenTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump Cruz urges Supreme Court to take up Pennsylvania election challenge MORE.

McEnany rarely veered off script, offering a consistent and robust defense of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump 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 GrishamCapitol physician advises lawmakers against attending dinners, receptions during COVID-19 spike White House moves forward with holiday parties during pandemic Melania Trump unveils White House Christmas decorations MORE as press secretary as part of a broader shuffle of the communications team executed by new chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Overnight Health Care: CDC panel recommends who gets vaccine first | McConnell offering new relief bill | Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines On The Money: McConnell offering new coronavirus relief bill | Biden introduces economic team, vows swift action on relief | Rare Mnuchin-Powell spat takes center stage at COVID-19 hearing 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 SpicerRealClearPolitics editor corrects Giuliani on Pennsylvania claim: 'This is false' Job-seeking Trump officials likely to get chilly reception on K Street Trump challenges electoral process as hopes for victory fade 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 SandersSarah Sanders on Trump's reported war dead criticism: 'Those comments didn't happen' Sarah Sanders memoir reportedly says Trump joked she should hook up with Kim Jong Un McEnany stamps her brand on White House press operation MORE Sanders admitted to former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerBarr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting 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 ComeyCarter Page sues over surveillance related to Russia probe Top Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon The new marshmallow media in the Biden era 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.