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The Most Asinine Things Kayleigh McEnany Said During Today’s White House Press Briefing

Plus bonus Betsy DeVos!

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks in mega close-up.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany really went for it during her press briefing Thursday. I’m not exactly sure what “it” was but I do know she was giving it her all.

Here are some of the terrible things she said today:

“Science should not stand in the way of” opening schools.

When asked what Donald Trump would say to parents who have children in school districts that are planning to go online-only in the fall and don’t know how to navigate that, McEnany responded: “The president has said unmistakably that he wants schools to open … And when he says open, he means open in full, kids been able to attend each and every day at their school. The science should not stand in the way of this.”

Then in the same breath she goes on to quote former Stanford Neuroradiology Chief/regular Fox News presence Dr. Scott Atlas, who says “the science is on our side,” so I guess the science isn’t going to stand in their way because their approach is to ignore science entirely until one person says one thing that benefits them, then base their entire plan on that.

She snapped over the Hatch Act.

A reporter asked her if there is “any place in the White House where you think politics is inappropriate and where do you draw the line?”. He specifically cited a campaign meeting last month and this week’s bizarre unofficial campaign rally Trump held for reporters in the Rose Garden.

McEnany jumped to a prepared statement on how Trump didn’t violate the Hatch Act because that act, which prohibits federal employees from political campaigning, doesn’t apply to the president or vice president. And while that’s technically true, as the reporter jumped in to say, that wasn’t the question. And that’s when McEnany gets testy.

The reporter interrupted to say his question has nothing to do with the Hatch Act. With her trademark tone of disdain and dead dagger-eyes, she shot back, “It has everything to do with this. Go read the Hatch Act! That’s what you’re alleging is problematic for the president.” (Again, it wasn’t.)

“But what your real problem was,” she snipped, “was the fact that the president gave a very good, powerful speech from the Rose Garden.” Neat. I wonder what she thinks about those unofficial bean ads.

She accidentally made a great case for vote-by-mail.

When asked about a Republican congressional candidate in North Carolina who was accused of illegally collecting and completing absentee ballots (that thing Trump keeps saying Democrats will do), she responded by saying she wasn’t familiar with that case but flipped in her binder to some talking points on voter fraud that I don’t think make the point she was trying to make.

In addition to mentioning a USPS truck that caught fire as some sort of malicious impediment to voting, she had this to say about “rampant voter fraud”: “In 2016, as the president has noted, about 1 percent of absentee ballots nationwide were thrown out and it could be much higher this year as many people vote by mail for the first time,” McEnany said. “That’s one of the flaws with mass mail-in voting.”

As the Washington Post writes:

So … how’s that a flaw? If the argument is that 1-in-100 ballots are thrown out as suspect or invalid, that seems like the system working as it should? Don’t we want ballots that don’t pass the smell test to be rejected? Is it better if no ballots are rejected?

But McEnany wasn’t the only person in the Trump administration to say wacky things today.

When asked about how to safely reopen schools and what the plan for that is, Betsy DeVos tried (and failed) to do some major semantics gymnastics:

And finally, there was … whatever the hell this was:

(image: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.