Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has raised eyebrows by claiming she “never lied” during her time in the job.

McEnany was Donald Trump’s fourth and final press secretary, serving from April of 2020 to the end of his administration in January of 2021. She now works for Fox News.

You might recall the promise she made to reporters in response to a question at her first media briefing: “I will never lie to you. You have my word on that.”

On Sunday, McEnany spoke at an event organised by the conservative group Turning Point USA, and brought up that pledge.

“I said without hesitation, no. And I never did [lie],” she said.

“As a woman of faith, as a mother of baby Blake, as a person who meticulously prepared at some of the world’s hardest institutions, I never lied. I sourced my information.

“But that will never stop the press from calling you a liar.”

McEnany did indeed study at some of the world’s most prestigious universities, including Georgetown and Harvard Law School.

What of her claim that she never lied?

We should first acknowledge that press secretaries typically twist the truth to some extent, as it’s their job to put the best possible spin on their bosses’ records.

The line between this disingenuous political spin and outright lying can be difficult to define.

With that in mind, here are some examples of contentious moments from McEnany’s tenure. I’ll leave you to decide for yourself which category each falls into.

Mueller report 'totally exonerated' Trump

At that very first press conference on May 1, 2020, McEnany said the Mueller report resulted in “the complete and total exoneration of President Trump”.

“While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” the actual Mueller report said.

Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team declined to make a judgment one way or the other on whether Trump committed a crime, citing US Justice Department precedent that sitting presidents should not be indicted.

The report laid out the facts of ten alleged incidents in which Trump might have obstructed justice, and left it to prosecutors to make a decision about charging him after he left office. Obviously, no such charges have been brought.

Asked whether he had cleared Trump of criminal wrongdoing at a congressional hearing, Mueller said: “No.”

The report did find no evidence to prove Trump personally colluded with Russia in the 2016 election, though it did uncover wrongdoing by multiple Trump campaign staffers. Most notably, campaign chairman Paul Manafort shared internal campaign information with a man with links to Russian intelligence.

'No tear gas was used' to clear protesters

On June 1, 2020, police cleared protesters from Lafayette Park, near the White House. Shortly afterwards, Trump crossed the park to pose for an infamous photo op with a Bible in front of St John’s Church.

Two days later, McEnany accused the media of reporting falsely on the incident.

“No tear gas was used and no rubber bullets were used,” she said.

“Chemical agents were used,” a reporter told her.

“Again, no tear gas was used and no rubber bullets were used,” she replied.

A recent inspector general report on the incident found that police did, in fact, use tear gas. They also fired pepper balls into the crowd.

Trump 'never downplayed' the coronavirus

At a media briefing on September 9, 2020, McEnany was asked about a recording of her boss from March, in which he told journalist Bob Woodward he “wanted to always play down” the threat of the coronavirus to avoid creating “a panic”.

“The president never downplayed the virus,” she responded.

“The president expressed calm.”

In fact, Trump repeatedly downplayed the virus last year, particularly in its early months, telling Americans it was under control, the threat was being overhyped by the media and the Democrats, and it would soon go away. You can find a few examples in this piece.

By the time McEnany was asked about the recording, about 200,000 Americans were dead. That death toll has since risen over 600,000.

Politifact gave her claim here its worst rating, “pants on fire”.

Ballots being found 'dumped in rivers'

On October 1, McEnany got into an extensive confrontation with Fox News Radio reporter Jon Decker during a White House briefing.

Decker asked her about one of Trump’s voter fraud claims. The president had alleged, during a debate with Joe Biden, that ballots were being “dumped in rivers”.

“He said ‘they found a lot of ballots in a river’. Who is they?” he asked.

“What the president was referring to (was) something that we’ve seen just in the last seven days, where in Wisconsin there were trails of mail ending up in a ditch,” she answered.

“I believe that’s the specific (incident) he was referring to. And that included absentee ballots.”

“In this particular statement though, who is ‘they’ that found those ballots, and where is this river, anywhere in the country?” Decker followed up.

A bad tempered back-and-forth followed, with Ms McEnany accusing the assembled reporters showing a “lack of journalist curiosity”.

“I cover the news, and I like to report accurately the news. And when the president says ‘they found a lot of ballots in a river’, I simply want to know where the river is,” Decker said.

The US Postal Service did launch an investigation into the incident in question here, which happened in eastern Wisconsin.

A batch of mail was found on the side of a road and in a ditch line. It was supposed to be in transit to the post office. Some absentee ballots were found.

None of them had been dumped in a river.

'Biden admits to voter fraud'

On October 24, 2020, McEnany said Biden had admitted to “voter fraud”.

“Joe Biden brags about having the most extensive VOTER FRAUD organisation in history,” she said, sharing footage of him speaking to the podcast Pod Save America.

“The Republicans are doing everything they can to make it harder for people to vote,” Biden told the programme.

“We have put together, I think, the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organisation in the history of American politics.”

He went on to describe the system Democrats had in place to help voters with “any problem” they had casting their ballots.

This was a pretty classic case of Biden misspeaking, as he often does. In other interviews, he had described the same system as a “voter protection programme”.

His campaign spokesman clarified his meaning, saying the Democrats had assembled “the most robust and sophisticated team” in history to “confront voter suppression”.

Democrats 'are welcoming illegal voting'

On November 9, McEnany held a press conference in which she repeated debunked fraud claims and accused the Democrats of “welcoming illegal voting”.

“You don’t take these positions because you want an honest election. You don’t oppose an audit of the vote because you want an accurate count. You don’t oppose our effort at sunlight, at transparency, because you have nothing to hide. You take these positions because you are welcoming fraud and you are welcoming illegal voting,” she said.

Fox News host Neil Cavuto cut away from the press conference halfway through, expressing alarm at McEnany’s rhetoric.

“Whoa whoa whoa, I just think we have to be very clear,” Cavuto told his viewers.

“She’s charging the other side is welcoming fraud and welcoming illegal voting. Unless she has more details to back that up, I can’t in good countenance continue showing this.

“That is an explosive charge to make, that the other side is effectively rigging and cheating. If she does bring proof of that, we will take you back.”

She did not provide proof, and neither did Trump’s lawyers, whose attempts to overturn the election results were repeatedly thrown out of court.

Trump alleges the courts refused to consider the so-called proof of fraud. That is false. You can read an extensive breakdown of the major judgments here.

'More than one million' people in Trump march

On November 14, thousands of Trump’s supporters marched in Washington D.C. to support his election fraud claims.

“AMAZING! More than one MILLION marchers for President Trump descend on the swamp in support,” McEnany said, sharing images of the rally.

This was a ludicrously implausible figure. The location couldn’t even fit more than 135,000 people, and news outlets estimated there were “thousands” present. The most generous figure, from Fox News, was “tens of thousands”.

McEnany’s claim was reminiscent of her predecessor Sean Spicer’s insistence that Trump had the largest inauguration crowd in history.

Trump's gesture on World AIDS Day

Another weirdly trivial one here.

In early December, Trump marked World AIDS Day by placing a large red ribbon in front of the White House.

“The president honoured World AIDS Day yesterday in a way that no president has before, with the red ribbon there,” McEnany told reporters.

Former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush had both done it before.

A 'continuation of power' still possible

On December 15, the day after the electoral college confirmed Joe Biden had won the election, McEnany was asked whether Trump opposed the Senate considering his successor’s Cabinet nominees prior to the inauguration on January 20.

“He won’t get ahead of that activity happening, but he has taken all statutory requirements necessary to either ensure a smooth transition or continuation of power,” she replied.

At the end of this briefing, one reporter shouted after McEnany as she left the room, accusing her of being a hypocrite for accusing “others of disinformation when you spread it every day”.

There was no prospect of a “continuation of power” at this point. Trump, however, had not accepted that fact, believing he could still get a second term if Congress refused to certify the electoral college result on January 6.

A mob of his supporters, sharing that false belief, violently stormed the Capitol on that day in an attempt to stop the certification.

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