Kayleigh McEnany and Trump hilariously can't keep their stories straight about the Supreme Court's rebuke

Kayleigh McEnany and Trump hilariously can't keep their stories straight about the Supreme Court's rebuke
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany addresses her remarks at a White House press briefing Friday, May 1, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and President Donald Trump seem to be having very different reactions to two cases in which the Supreme Court rejected his arguments on Thursday, resulting in absurdly contrasting statements from a pair that is supposed to speak with one voice.


The arguments came in two cases, one dealing with Congress and another with New York DA Cyrus Vance, in which the parties sought Trump's personal financial information. In both cases, Trump argued that his role as president makes him immune to such inquiries. The Supreme Court flatly rejected this assertion of privilege and argued that he'd have to make more conventional arguments in the lower courts to fight the subpoenas.

When the rulings came down, the president was clearly furious. It was evident on his Twitter timeline:

He wasn't even making coherent arguments, but he was clearly upset about the rulings.

But that's not what McEnany would have us believe. In a statement, she said Trump was "gratified" by the ruling in the case concerning Congress's subpoena:

As the Court made clear, the limited authority of Congress to conduct fact-finding through subpoenas must be used in aid of Congress’ authority to legislate and must be tied to a valid legislative purpose.  Congress may not act as a roving investigative body, especially against a co-equal branch of government.

She added:

In the accompanying decision in Trump v. Vance, the Court also protected the President’s financial records from intrusive subpoenas from a partisan district attorney.  As the Court determined, the New York district attorney has not yet established his ability to secure access to those records.  Instead, further proceedings are required in the lower court in which the President can raise additional arguments, including constitutional protections, against this frivolous and politically motivated subpoena.

What she ignored in both cases is that the court rejected Trump's arguments that he should be able to reject all such subpoenas. The court did send the cases back to the lower courts to be argued further — likely delaying any decision past the November election — but it put him on a weaker footing because he doesn't have the option of using the presidency as a complete screen against investigative scrutiny.

Observers in the media clashed about whether the ruling should be seen as a win or a loss for Trump, but it was particularly striking that the White House couldn't even tell a single story about what happened.

When Trump was asked about the rulings later by, he said they are "basically starting all over again, sending everything back down to the lower court." He added: "So, from a certain point I’m satisfied, on another point I’m not satisfied because frankly, this is a political witch hunt."

But during her briefing with reporters, McEnany declared victory.

"How is President Trump feeling about the two justices he appointed to the Supreme Court?" a reporter asked. "They ruled against him today."

"The justices are entitled to their opinion. This is an independent branch of government," said McEnany. But she said the language of the opinions made it clear that "this was a win for the president."

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.