Reporter Pushes Back After Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany Claims Journalists “Desperately” Want To See Churches Remain ClosedMay 22, 2020
After Donald Trump characterized houses of worship as “essential services” and called upon governors to open them “right now,” Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany faced questions from reporters of what the president’s authority was to force state officials to do so.
But she also drew pushback when she claimed that reporters in the White House briefing room wanted to see churches remain closed.
In some states have been closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, as states impose restrictions on large gatherings.
At a White House press briefing, one reporter asked McEnany, “If a governor does not allow that, does the White House support churches that defy these executive orders?”
“The president has been very clear. He wants to see churches reopen in accordance with these guidelines.”
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“The answer is yes?” the reporter asked.
She responded, “I gave you an answer and the president would like to do it in accordance with the CDC guidelines.”
Then he pressed her on what provision of federal law would allow the president to override a governor on the issue.
She replied, “The president will strongly encourage every governor to allow their churches to reopen, and boy, it is interesting to be in a room that desperately wants to seem to see these churches and houses of worship stay closed.”
Then, Reuters White House Correspondent Jeff Mason took issue with her comment.
“I object to that,” he said. “I go to church. I’m dying to go back to church. The question we are asking you and would have liked to have asked the president and Dr. [Deborah] Birks is, Is it safe? If it is not safe, is the president trying to encourage that, or does the president agree with Dr. Birks that people should wait.”
McEnany replied, “Jeff, it is safe to reopen your churches and you do so in accordance with the guidelines which are laid out in very stringent detail here,” outlining some of the provisions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
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