New Trump press secretary to give first briefing

By: AFP      Published: 11:04 PM, 1 May, 2020
New Trump press secretary to give first briefing

The new White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, is set Friday to do something unusual: go into the briefing room and brief the press.

It will be the first time in more than a year that a press secretary has stood at the famous podium and held a formal question and answer session.

The White House announced the event late Thursday.

Although President Donald Trump is setting records for the number of press conferences, interviews on friendly outlets, and impromptu gatherings with reporters, the briefing room has been mostly abandoned.

Trump's then press secretary Sarah Sanders stopped giving briefings -- which under previous presidencies were an almost daily event -- in March 2019.

Her replacement, Stephanie Grisham, did not hold a single such briefing.

The room has seen new life during the coronavirus pandemic, with Trump and senior officials holding daily updates there until last week, amid concern that the president was irking Americans with his highly politicized performances.

McEnany, 31, made a first appearance in the briefing room Thursday when she was measured by staff so that they could adjust the podium for her height.

"Never say never," she responded when asked if this meant she'd be resuming briefings.

A graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, McEnany stood out as a fierce defender of Trump as a paid commentator on CNN, which is often critical of the president. She also made frequent guest appearances on the far more Trump-friendly Fox News.

She then joined the Republican National Committee communications team and became the Trump 2020 reelection campaign spokeswoman.

McEnany has been criticized over past comments including support for Trump's long-held conspiracy theory that former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States -- a falsehood seen by many as racist.

However, she is seen as an effective and battle hardened operator at a time when Trump is trying to overcome widespread disapproval for his handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The White House has repeatedly said that Trump prefers to be his own spokesman, communicating directly via Twitter and his many direct interactions with reporters.

However, his image suffered a serious self-inflicted wound last week when he made the bizarre statement -- in the briefing room -- that coronavirus patients could be injected with disinfectants.