New Trump press secretary holds first White House driveway gaggle

New White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday held her first informal press conference with reporters on the White House driveway, defending presidential tweets and a pending executive order to suspend immigration.

It was the first gaggle with a press secretary since mid 2019 and signals a potential return of the often impromptu exchanges, which generally are less combative than formal televised briefings.

About 10 journalists formed a semicircle around McEnany on the asphalt near the West Wing after she finished a Fox News broadcast in a nearby tent.

McEnany, an experienced TV commentator who previously was a spokeswoman for President Trump’s re-election campaign, spoke with reporters for less than 5 minutes, addressing a range of trending news stories and agreeing to share information on specific requests.

She offered a further clarification of Trump’s morning tweet that CDC Director Robert Redfield “was totally misquoted” in reference to a possible future rise in coronavirus cases linked to the annual flu season.

“What he said was that flu will re-emerge in the fall, everyone needs to go out there and get a flu shot,” McEnany said.

“The media has completely taken that out of context to say that coronavirus will strongly reemerge in the fall. That was not what he was trying to say. He had an emphasis on the flu, being responsible, getting your flu shot, all Americans should do that. But again, leave it to the media to take him out of context.”

A statement that Trump said would be released by Redfield “will be forthcoming, you should get that today,” she added.

McEnany was also asked for details on the president’s promise to sign an executive order on Wednesday to ban immigration for 60 days.

“I don’t want to get ahead of the president’s executive order. We will have all the details forthcoming. But what I can tell you so far is that this will affect those who have green cards, and there will be carveouts for other types of non-immigrant visas,” she said.

“We are in the process of finalizing it,” McEnany said. “One thing I want to correct is that I’ve seen some reporting indicating that there was a rushed draft put together after the president’s [Monday] tweet. That was absolutely not the case. In fact, I read the draft before the tweet even went out, so this has been in the works for quite some time. we’re putting the final touches on and we do expect to have that today as the president tweeted.”

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MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

US-POLITICS-MCENANY

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

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In response to critics who believe Trump will not restrict low-wage foreign workers, she said: “The president has promised a temporary halt of 60 days to immigration. This executive order will accomplish that. I think what they’re focusing on is non-immigrant visas. But staying true to his word, this president promised a halt on immigration and indeed that is what he’s about to deliver.”

Asked if Trump would issue a directive to the Pentagon after tweeting that the US military could sink Iranian boats “if they harass our ships,” McEnany said: “The president’s tweet speaks for itself, so I’ll leave it at that for now.”

McEnany said that she would work to get reporters a readout of a call between Trump and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican moving to reopen the state’s economy.

“I’ll get back to you in the next two hours on that. Send me an email,” she said.

The small group of questioners around McEnany reflected White House Correspondents’ Association efforts to discourage journalists from accessing White House grounds in large groups during the coronavirus pandemic. The driveway gaggle was her first as press secretary, McEnany confirmed to The Post.

Early last year, Trump instructed then-press secretary Sarah Sanders to cease regular briefings because, he wrote, “the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately.” The driveway then emerged as a de facto briefing room.

McEnany’s immediate predecessor, Stephanie Grisham, a stalwart Trump defender who served more than nine months in the post, did not host driveway gaggles. This month, she returned to the East Wing as first lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff.

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