White House holds first press briefing in over a year

New Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that the Trump administration will distribute $12 billion in provider relief payments.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany is briefing reporters Friday afternoon the first formal briefing by a press secretary in over a year. Former press secretary Sarah Sanders held the last briefing in March 2019. McEnany addressed comments by President Trump on Thursday where he suggested that China may have been responsible for the creation of the COVID-19 strain, and also threatened to impose new tariffs on China. However, the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that the coronavirus “was not manmade or genetically modified.”

“Intelligence is just an estimate, essentially,” McEnany said about the intelligence community’s conclusion. She also said she would not get ahead of the president in making an announcement on tariffs. Although Mr. Trump’s press secretaries have a history of making false statements at the podium, McEnany promised she would “never lie” to reporters. “I will never lie to you. You have my word on that,” McEnany said. McEnany also announced that the administration would send $12 billion to the 395 hospitals that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus. Hospitals in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois will receive the majority of the funds. Dan Scavino Jr., the White House deputy chief of staff for communications, announced in a tweet Thursday evening that McEnany would be holding the briefing. 

McEnany was named the new White House press secretary in April, replacing Stephanie Grisham, who never held a formal press briefing during her short tenure. McEnany was previously a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, and a frequent surrogate for the president on cable news. McEnany’s briefing comes after weeks of daily press conferences by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, led by President Trump. Mr. Trump has minimized his appearances in the past week, attending only one formal press briefing on Monday. The task force conferences often lasted two hours or more, with the president stirring controversy over his claims about the spread and mitigation of the coronavirus pandemic.

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