White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s husband, Sean Gilmartin, appeared without a mask in the White House briefing room on Wednesday and declined to cover his face after being asked to do so by a journalist.
The interaction between Gilmartin and the White House press corps came after McEnany, who generally does not wear a mask at the briefing room podium, conducted a 24-minute news conference.
Photographer Doug Mills of The New York Times initiated the exchange when he “politely pointed out” to Gilmartin, a professional baseball pitcher, rules mandating that masks be worn in White House press areas.
White House pool reporter Chris Johnson of The Washington Blade reported that “a White House staffer who was with Gilmartin said incredulously, ‘Kayleigh’s husband?’”
The staffer and Gilmartin then exited the briefing room together as Mills “restated the mask rules and said it doesn’t matter who [Gilmartin] is,” Johnson recounted.
Mills confirmed to Johnson that Gilmartin was maskless for the entirety of the briefing, adding that he did not know Gilmartin was McEnany’s husband when he informed him about the mask rules.
Policies enforced by the White House Correspondents’ Association to prevent the spread of the coronavirus include the requirement that masks be worn in all shared White House press areas.
McEnany did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment on why her husband declined to wear a mask at Wednesday‘s briefing.
WHCA President Zeke Miller, a reporter for The Associated Press, told POLITICO in an email that the organization “has repeatedly encouraged everyone in the press areas to wear masks at all [times], including with signage and frequent reminders that failing to do so puts themselves and others around them at greater risk.”
WHCA Vice President Steven Portnoy, a reporter for CBS News Radio, also noted in a tweet that “at her first briefing in nearly two weeks, Kayleigh McEnany brought six aides and a guest into the briefing room. None of them wore masks.”
Mills, a veteran White House photojournalist, is one of President Donald Trump’s favorite members of the media. Trump has previously referred to him as a “genius” and “the No. 1 photographer in the world.”
Also present at McEnany’s briefing was Chad Gilmartin, a White House assistant press secretary who is a cousin of Sean Gilmartin. He, too, was not wearing a mask.
McEnany has refused to wear a mask while briefing reporters throughout the coronavirus pandemic, citing the distance between her and the press corps when she takes questions from the podium.
McEnany tested positive for Covid-19 in October, and was one of numerous administration officials to be infected across three separate White House outbreaks in recent months.
At the outset of her briefing on Wednesday, McEnany showed video clips of Democratic politicians violating local coronavirus restrictions or contradicting their own public health guidance — describing the footage as “images of Democrat hypocrisy playing on loop.”
“These images behind me make clear Democrats’ mindsets: Rules for thee but not for me,” McEnany said.
“We all know how to protect ourselves from Covid-19,” she added. “Wash your hands, socially distance, wear a mask.”