President Donald Trump’s campaign press secretary got into a heated debate with CNN’s Chris Cuomo last night when she said she does not believe the president has ever told a lie.
Leaving Cuomo stunned, Kayleigh McEnany said firmly and repeatedly that President Donald Trump 'doesn’t lie. The press lies.”
“You don’t think this president has lied to the American people?” Cuomo pressed McEnany.
“Let me finish, Chris.” McEnany said as the two talked over each other. “No, I don’t think the president has lied.”
“Kayleigh McEnany, your credibility will be shot with my audience if you don’t back off that statement,” Cuomo responded.
McEnany pointed to a now-retracted report from MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell that alleged the president had financial ties to Russian oligarchs. O’Donnell has admitted he was mistaken.
“Hey, you see the letters on the bottom of the screen? They say C-N-N,” Cuomo said. “If I didn’t say it, I don’t want to talk about it.”
McEnany also brought up coverage by CNN of the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, who also said in an interview with The Washington Post published yesterday that the president does not lie:
“I don’t think they’re lies. … I know people will roll their eyes if I say he was just kidding or was speaking in hypotheticals, but sometimes he is. What I’ve learned about him is that he loves this country and he’s not going to lie to this country.”
CNN and The Washington Post both independently reported that Trump had told aides he would pardon them if they were to break any laws in order to get the border wall built quickly. Trump has denied this allegation. CNN host John Berman wondered if this was one of the cases Grisham was referring to.
McEnany told Cuomo this juxtaposition was misleading.
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) August 29, 2019
Most recently, Trump claimed that Congress "foolishly gave" $92 billion in aid money to Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. In reality, only $42 billion has been approved by Congress since the hurricane hit in 2017.
Trump and Cuomo have a tense relationship, too. Earlier this month the president slammed Cuomo on Twitter after a video of the CNN host blowing up at a critic who called him “Fredo” went viral. And Trump’s fraught relationship with the network itself is not new.
Cuomo asked McEnany the question again and again while she repeated her claim and criticized the news media for its “negative” coverage of the president.
“Interview’s over, Kayleigh,” Cuomo finally said. After another back-and-forth before the segment ended, McEnany got a last line in, telling Cuomo to take a look in the mirror.
“I do, and I don't like these lines,” Cuomo shot back, “but I do like that I don’t lie to my audience every damn chance I get.”
Contributing: Ledyard King
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump's press secretary says to CNN's Cuomo: President 'doesn't lie'