White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany is under fire from reporters and others after a journalist asked her a simple question about President Donald Trump’s demand that governors allow churches and other houses of worship to open “right now.”
President Trump does not have the legal authority to make that demand.
A CBS News reporter asked McEnany if President Trump supports churches who have been defying orders of the governors in their states to not re-open.
McEnany would not answer the reporter’s question, instead saying President Trump has “been very clear. He wants churches to re-open, he wants them to do it safely.”
“If the governor does not allow that,” the reporter pushed, “does he support those churches defying the governor’s orders?”
McEnany repeated her exact same response, once again not answering the very simple question.
“The answer is ‘yes’?” the reporter pressed.
“I just gave you an answer,” McEnany claimed. She then again repeated her canned statement.
“What provision of federal law allows the president to override the governors?” the reporter asked.
“The president will strongly encourage the governors to allow their churches to re-open,” McEnany again repeated. She then said, “Boy, it’s interesting to be in a room that desperately wants to seem to see these churches and houses of worship stay closed.”
She then pointed to Reuters’ Jeff Mason.
“Kayleigh, I object to that,” Mason replied. “I mean, I go to church. I’m dying to go back to church. The question that we’re asking you, and would like to have asked the President and Dr. Birx, is, ‘Is it safe?’ And if it’s not safe, is the President trying to encourage that or does the President agree with Dr. Birx that people should wait?”
“Jeff, it is safe to re-open your churches, if you do so in accordance with the guidelines,” McEnany, who is not a physician, immunologist, epidemiologist, or scientist, replied.
“I am thankful that we have a President that celebrates the First Amendment, the same Amendment that gives you all the ability to ask me questions, is there to have the freedom of worship.”
“Kayleigh, I object to that. I go to church. I’m dying to go back to church” — @jeffmason1 takes umbrage after McEnany suggests that reporters don’t want churches to reopen because they have something against religion pic.twitter.com/uEJQDgcApN
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 22, 2020
Other journalists weighed it.
This is such a hideous and inappropriate thing to say. And just wrong. Many journalists are people of faith. It’s also our job to ask if it’s *safe* for people to go back to churches and other houses of worship. https://t.co/YCdjCSM5Cg
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) May 22, 2020
Editor, LA Times DC bureau:
.@PressSec Kayleigh McEnany’s offensive insinuation that WH reporters oppose people going to places of worship–just because they had Qs about safety & Trump’s authority–underscores that Trump’s “order” to reopen churches is a political move.
— Jackie Calmes (@jackiekcalmes) May 22, 2020
Founder and editor, Talking Points Memo:
she shows her devotion to Trump by finding new ways to be gross. https://t.co/t2reVWGIVt
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) May 22, 2020
CBS News reporter:
Big shout out to @jeffmason1 for pushing back against McEnany’s insinuations that reporters don’t want churches to reopen. So many reporters, including myself, want to go back to church. It’s fair to ask for clarity about Trump’s comments, and to be concerned about safety.
— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) May 22, 2020
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