Answering this question about the alleged Kenosha shooter should be easy — but not for Trump's White House

Answering this question about the alleged Kenosha shooter should be easy — but not for Trump's White House
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)

During a Monday afternoon briefing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany used fearmongering language typical of the Trump administration, including painting a picture of anarchy, chaos, and riots in Democrat-led cities, in her opening address. McEnany even brought up Donald Trump’s incessant tagline of “law and order,” which his Twitter feed has been full of lately. However, the question-and-answer portion of the briefing is what’s really going viral on social media.


First, we learned that Donald Trump somehow does not have time scheduled with Jacob Blake, the unarmed Black man shot by police, or Blake’s family, though he’s apparently finding time to meet with law enforcement in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during his visit this week. Then, McEnany had an opportunity to offer Trump’s condemnation of teen shooter Kyle Rittenhouse’s alleged actions—which, perhaps unsurprisingly, did not happen. Let’s look at the background and the exact exchange below.

As background, Rittenhouse is the 17-year-old who went to Kenosha protests armed with an AR-15 to “protect” businesses and ended up killing two protesters and injuring a third. He has been charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree homicide, as well as one count of attempted homicide, reckless endangerment, and possessing a firearm under age 18.

First, one reporter said to McEnany: “The president was asked on Friday if he thought the shooting of Jacob Blake was justified. And he said he didn’t like the sight of it but he was going to learn more about it. Now that a couple of days has passed, does he think the shooting was justified or unjustified?”

McEnany punted that question, saying she’d refer him back to the president’s earlier remarks.

And then the question that’s going viral. A reporter asks the press secretary: “Does the president condemn the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse, who is accused of shooting some of the protesters?”

McEnany replies: “Um, the president is not going to weigh in on that.“ She then suggested Trump may hold his own briefing on Monday evening, where the question could be asked directly to him.

Then, a reporter asked McEnany why Trump “liked” a tweet in a Twitter thread describing Rittenhouse as a “good example” of why someone voted for Trump. McEnany said the president wanted to highlight people’s attention to “details that aren’t as well-known” and not as “public as they should be,” including that “the individual was being attacked.”

Following that exchange, McEnany was asked whether Trump essentially wants his supporters (which Rittenhouse reportedly is) to “show up” and behave similarly. McEnany said Trump “roundly condemns” all forms of violence. Of course, Trump is also the person who has taken to Twitter to threaten that protesters may be met with “serious force” as well as “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons.”

Luckily, Trump isn’t the only politician on Twitter. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden weighed in on McEnany’s briefing, and his call-out is quickly going viral.

You can stream the full press briefing below.

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