McEnany: Capitol insurrection spoiled plans for a farewell press conference

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Nick Niedzwiadek
·3 min read
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Former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday that the Trump White House scuttled plans for a parting press conference in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

McEnany, in her first extended public interview since former President Donald Trump left office, told Fox News that she intended to have a final briefing as a send-off of sorts at the end of her tenure. She said the riot fomented by a throng of Trump supporters made that impossible.

“I wanted to do a press briefing on the way out about all the great achievements of this administration, and all the good that I felt that the president had done,” McEnany said. “We didn't get the opportunity to do that because obviously Jan. 6th, it just was something that was not tenable.”

McEnany addressed reporters briefly on Jan. 7 but opted to read off a roughly two minute-long prepared statement and exited without taking questions.

“I knew I needed to go to the podium,” McEnany said Tuesday. “I knew that's what Christ would want me to do. I knew it's what, as a woman of faith, I needed to do."

At the time, McEnany tried to separate Trump from those who stormed the Capitol, saying they were “opposite of everything that this administration stands for.”

“The core value of our administration is the idea that all citizens have the right to live in safety, peace and freedom,” she said on Jan. 7.

Trump and his administration have been heavily criticized for their response both during and the immediate aftermath of the assault on Congress. The former president was slow to denounce the rioters — at one point professing his love for them and calling them “special” while they were occupying the Capitol complex. Trump reportedly had to be cajoled by aides into issuing that statement in the first place, even though the riot put the lives of former Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress in jeopardy.

Trump was subsequently impeached for his actions that day — the second impeachment of his four years in office — but was later acquitted following a brief Senate trial.

McEnany said the insurrection cast a pall over the final days of the Trump presidency. A number of top Trump administration figures, including cabinet secretaries Elaine Chao and Betsy DeVos, and White House aides resigned in the days following the riots.

“The last days were sad. We were packing boxes, and we were sad that this was one of the last events that happened on the way out the door,” she said. “I wish we could have had the opportunity to have that legacy press briefing, as it was, but it was a somber time.”

During her Fox interview, McEnany did not explain why she elected not to take question from reporters on Jan. 7, though she did complain about what she sees as disparate treatment between her and her successor, Jen Psaki, from the White House press corps.

“I think just the standards are different,” she said.

McEnany also defended her tenure as the public face of the Trump White House’s communications team and said she was “proud of my legacy as press secretary.”

The interview came as Fox announced that McEnany has landed a post White House role at the network.

"We will be seeing much more of her in the future,” host Harris Faulkner said Tuesday.

Prior to her time at the White House, McEnany was an on-air contributor at CNN.