White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany offered a head-spinning explanation Friday for why President Trump won’t let go of his bid to keep military bases named after Confederate leaders — even as Congress has approved bipartisan legislation to relabel them.
In a testy briefing with reporters, during which she at one point told a journalist to “stop filibustering,” McEnany said Trump’s quixotic quest isn’t actually about the Confederates at all.
“The bases are not known for the generals they’re named after. The bases are known for the heroes within it,” McEnany said after she was asked how Black soldiers should feel about serving at bases named for people who wanted them enslaved. “They’re great Americans, Black, white, Hispanic, of every race who have died on behalf of this great country.”
McEnany’s doubling down came after Trump tweeted that Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had assured him bases won’t be stripped of their Confederacy-honoring names.
“I spoke to highly respected (Chairman) Senator Jim Inhofe, who has informed me that he WILL NOT be changing the names of our great Military Bases and Forts, places from which we won two World Wars (and more!). Like me, Jim is not a believer in ‘Cancel Culture,‘” Trump wrote.
But Trump’s tweet stands in contrast to official action taken by the Senate and House earlier this week.
Both chambers passed National Defense Authorization Act bills by veto-proof majorities that contain language requiring the Pentagon to rename bases honoring the racist leaders and generals of the Confederate South.
McEnany demurred when asked how Inhofe could singlehandedly undo such legislation — especially since he was among the senators who voted in favor of it.
“I’ll leave that to Sen. Inhofe on how that works, legislatively speaking,” she said.
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