During a Friday press conference, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany melted down when asked whether President Donald Trump had brought up the issue of election meddling during a recent phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian meddling in U.S. elections is a serious issue that threatens the integrity of the process, but McEnany acted as though it was an insult for her to be asked about the topic at all. She only responded by noting that she’d not been listening into the phone conversation — but that wasn’t the question. Does McEnany know something that she’s trying to hide? She didn’t even say “I don’t know.”
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins posed the question:
‘Today the nation’s top counterintelligence officials said that Russia is one of three countries that is actively working to interfere in our election. Did the president bring up election interference on the call with the Russian president yesterday?’
McEnany defensively replied:
‘Again, I wasn’t on the call, but the president — I was not on the call, the president — the president has taken more actions for election security than his predecessor, who gave a stand-down order when he learned about election interference, Susan Rice gave that stand-down order. Obama’s intel chief even confirmed that the stand-down order took place. By contrast, we have given a ton of funding to election security, we take our elections seriously and we believe in election integrity.’
Watch the exchange below:
It’s unclear who exactly McEnany has in mind by “Obama’s intel chief.” The person who publicly confirmed a so-called stand-down order was Michael Daniel, who served as a “cyber security coordinator” at the White House — which is definitely not the same thing as an “intel chief.” Daniel may not have been privy to all of the relevant intelligence about the Russian meddling in U.S. elections, and although there’s certainly more that the Obama administration could have done overall — the notion that Trump has done “more… for election security” is deeply dubious, at best. Throwing funding at so-called election security programs isn’t enough. Has Trump actually engaged with the policy? Has he explored the option to hold Russia accountable for their past election meddling through means like further sanctions?
Trump has, in fact, been carrying on with his own work to undermine the integrity of U.S. elections. Recently, he has been clamoring against mail-in voting, which he alleges is ripe with opportunities for fraud. Essentially, his claims about mail-in voting fraud are a repeat of the nonsense that he spewed after the 2016 election, when he claimed that millions of illegal votes had been cast. There was zero evidence for that claim, and there’s zero evidence for this one — Americans already vote by mail in large numbers. Trump may simply be trying to create a pretext for rejecting or at least questioning the general election results in the increasingly likely event that he loses.
None of that even covers Trump’s increasingly sharp affinity for totalitarian leaders like Putin in general. While mocking just about every conceivable political opponent under the sun, he acts like leaders like Putin are his pals.