Reporters gave White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany the chance to “clean up or clarify” President Donald Trump’s shocking refusal to assure a “peaceful transfer of power” if he loses the election this fall. Her answers weren’t exactly reassuring.
After belittling Playboy reporter Brian Karem, who elicited the answer from Trump, McEnany said, “The president will accept the results of a free and fair election.” But when she was asked to explain what Trump will consider “free and fair” when he has complained that mail-in ballots should be discarded, she would only say it will be up to the president to decide if he believes the process was “rigged” or not.
“Just to understand this clearly, are the results legitimate only if the president wins?” NBC News’ Peter Alexander asked.
“The president will accept the results of a free and fair election,” she repeated. “He will accept the will of the American people.”
“So for clarity, if he loses and it’s ‘free and fair,’ he will accept it?” Alexander asked again.
“I’ve answered your question,” McEnany replied. “He will accept the results of a free and fair election.”
Later in the briefing, McEnany was pressed further on the matter by another reporter who asked which ballots Trump was referring to when he said, “Get rid of the ballots, and we’ll have a very peaceful, there won’t be a transfer, frankly, there’ll be a continuation.”
But after McEnany explained that Trump “wants to get rid of mass mail-out voting,” calling it a “system that’s subject to fraud,” the reporter pointed to the apparent hypocrisy in a new tweet from the president on Thursday that reads, “Vote-by-mail ballots in my home state of FLORIDA begin going out TODAY! Make sure to request yours, fill it out & send it in. Request yours today.”
“The president has always made the distinction that absentee ballots where you go through a process, where you request a ballot and you mail that in, that is a system that works,” McEnany, who has voted by mail in Florida 11 times over the past 10 years, said, drawing a distinction that Trump himself did not make in his tweet.
Last May, McEnany told reporters that Trump only supports “mail-in voting for a reason, when you have a reason that you are unable to be present.” Florida, however, is one of many states that does not require voters to specify a reason why they are unable to vote in person. At the time, she did not consider the coronavirus pandemic a sufficient reason to vote by mail.
“So these ballots are going out,” the reporter added. “If the president does win, will he still think it was rigged and fraudulent?”
“I’ve already answered this question,” McEnany snapped back before moving on to the next topic.