White House takes victory lap on vaccines as Trump refuses to concede Electoral College defeat

·Senior Writer
·2 min read

A day after doses of the first non-trial coronavirus vaccine were distributed in the United States, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany began a press briefing — her first in nearly two weeks — with an extended boast about how President Trump defied the experts to push for a vaccine before the end of the year, coupled with a list of complaints about media outlets that had expressed skepticism of the administration’s Operation Warp Speed.

In response to a question about Monday’s Electoral College vote that sealed President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, she indicated Trump wasn’t done fighting to overturn it.

“Yesterday the United States witnessed a medical miracle,” McEnany said at the top of her briefing. “The first doses of a COVID vaccine were administered to frontline medical workers across the country. The president promised a safe and effective vaccine in record time and President Trump delivered.”

McEnany cited articles from earlier in the year by NBC News, USA Today and National Geographic, among others, which quoted public health experts who doubted Trump’s timeline.

“These reports deserve their own fact check: False,” she said.

Trump has repeatedly boasted that “no one would have believed” a vaccine could be ready so soon. The skeptical officials were simply going off historical and safe timelines that were upended by the pandemic, and predated advances in genomics over the last several years. As New York magazine’s David Wallace-Wells wrote, Moderna’s vaccine, which is on track for FDA authorization within days, was designed in January, just days after Chinese researchers published the coronavirus’s genetic sequence. Clinical trials of several vaccines began months ago.

Kayleigh McEnany
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Operation Warp Speed paid for research and development of some coronavirus vaccines — although not the one introduced on Monday by Pfizer, which was the first to win authorization in the U.S., and accelerated manufacturing by essentially committing to buy millions of doses in advance.

Trump also pushed the FDA to speed the authorization process, reportedly by threatening to fire the agency’s head if he delayed signing off on the Pfizer vaccine beyond last Friday.

The briefing came the day after the Electoral College voted to confirm Trump’s election loss, and hours after Senate Majority Mitch McConnell recognized Biden as the president-elect for the first time.

McEnany refused to acknowledge that the Electoral College sealed Trump’s election fate.

“The president is still involved in ongoing litigation related to the election,” she said. “Yesterday was one step in the constitutional process.”

There are just two steps left: the counting of the Electoral College votes in Congress, on Jan. 6, and the swearing in of Biden as president on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day.

McEnany said she had not spoken to the president about McConnell’s acknowledgement of Biden’s victory.

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