“Again, that would be a question for the campaign. We at the White House are aggressively working on covid, winding down the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, among other issues. There will be a drug-pricing announcement later in the afternoon as well,” responded McEnany.
Boldface inserted to highlight a troubling use of the first-person plural: By including herself among all these people working on policy initiatives “at the White House,” McEnany was shading the truth. Over the past several weeks, she has spent quite a bit of time moonlighting as a senior adviser for the Trump reelection campaign, appearing at press briefings and on television to speak for the campaign — a separate job from her taxpayer-funded work as White House press secretary.
In fact, just hours after referring that question to the campaign, she appeared on Fox News to answer questions for the campaign! After “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Saturday morning played select clips of McEnany from that Friday briefing, co-host Pete Hegseth introduced McEnany this way: “That was Kayleigh McEnany the press secretary yesterday at the White House. Let’s bring Kayleigh in now in a different role, as Trump 2020 senior campaign adviser,” said Hegseth.
Several minutes of Trump propaganda disguised as a news interview followed.
It’s even more absurd when McEnany is speaking as a campaign adviser and refers questions to the White House, which employs her to answer those very questions. That’s what happened during a previous “Fox & Friends” appearance, when she was asked about giving President-elect Joe Biden access to presidential briefings. “I haven’t spoken to the president about that — that would be a question more for the White House but I will say that all laws are being followed with regard to an expected transition,” said the press secretary/campaign adviser.
The dual role raised questions as to whether McEnany had run afoul of the Hatch Act, which prohibits political activities by government employees while on duty. No way, she tweeted from her personal account: “When you enter government, you do not lose First Amendment rights. Hatch Act says to separate govt & political activity, which I diligently work to do. Reporters (who ironically have freedom of press embedded in the 1st Amendment), are complaining about my 1A right to speech!”
The ethics of McEnany’s daily switcheroos are one story. Another is what her double duty says about the entire Trump operation — which is that the president so values McEnany’s “skills” that he demands that she represent him in her official White House capacity as well as on campaign stuff. A central part of that mission, of course, is appearances on Fox News. Over the past two weeks, McEnany has been a guest on Sean Hannity’s show at least eight times, the better to advance their joint venture of ruining American democracy.
Second-string Trumpites don’t turn in consecutive appearances on “Hannity.” After years of bumbling from McEnany’s predecessors as press secretary, Trump world has found its voice in McEnany, whose cocksure and happy presence doesn’t hesitate in repeating or covering up the lies of the president. She brings a magisterial panache to misinforming the public.
As she closed Friday’s briefing in her press-secretary capacity, McEnany was bombarded with shouted questions from the assembled reporters. McEnany responded, “I don’t call on activists.” CNN’s Kaitlan Collins objected, “I’m not an activist, and you haven’t taken questions since Oct. 1, and you just took about five, Kayleigh. That’s not doing your job.” Collins paused, then added, “Your taxpayer-funded job.” It was a necessary addendum.
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