McEnany Calls Out Anti-Trump NYT Hacks for Harming America, Risking National Security

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In a last-minute White House press briefing, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany opened Tuesday with a stinging rebuke against the virulently anti-Trump and far-left New York Times, eviscerating their anonymously-sourced Russia stories that have “undermine[d]” not only Donald Trump as commander-in-chief, but also national and global security to disseminate threats.

“The front page of The New York Times is not the venue for discussing classified information. The White House podium is not the venue for discussing classified information. We are here today having this discussion because of an irresponsible, anonymous leak to The New York Times,” McEnany began, adding that no good can come out of such a leak.

 

 

She asked a series of questions to the press, such as what country will want to work with the United States recognizing that there’s a possibility a “rogue” person(s) will merely take and leak it to friends in the press.

Answering those questions herself, McEnany noted he’s been subject to a litany of intelligence leaks meant to hurt Trump and, on a broader level, “this report makes it more difficult to come to a consensus on this matter to verify intelligence and number two, this level of controversy and discord plays directly into the hands of Russia and unfortunately serves their interests.”

Citing the average of over 100 criminal leak referrals to the DOJ in the Trump presidency, McEnany slammed the leak on Russian bounties to Afghani militants on U.S. troops as “irresponsible,” “damag[ing]” to “our ability as a nation to collect intelligence,” and a crime.

“To the anonymous sources who leak classified information, you should know this. You may seek to undermine our President but in fact, you undermine our country safety and our country security,” she concluded before taking questions.

Responding to a question from FNC’s Kristin Fisher, McEnany emphasized that the intelligence did not yet have a “consensus, has not been verified, still to this day has not been verified today and there are several agencies on the record noting that.”

“We are still investigating the intelligence referenced in recent reporting, but that didn't stop The New York Times from putting it on the very first page of their newspaper and stopping us from getting to an ultimate conclusion and ultimate place of having a consensus on the intelligence,” she added.

Bloomberg’s Justin Sink twice asked about the insinuation that Trump doesn’t listen to or read intelligence briefings and, naturally, things didn’t end well for him (click “expand”):

SINK: I want to look back on you saying the President never being briefed. I think the dispute is whether in February his PDB included the information, so I’m wondering if you can say whether or not he may not have read the briefing book that he was presented but was he at some point at least given access to this information.

MCENANY: So, the PDB is a top–secret document that is widely disseminated among government. I will never sit here and confirm or deny what is in a top-secret document, so I’ll leave it at that. One thing I will say that is routine is when there is intelligent — I was speaking with folks about this earlier and some other folks around the White House, when we get intelligence, verified or unverified, incredible or not credible, deemed consensus or no consensus, if that information in any way impinges upon the safety of our troops, that information goes to our troops on the ground and to our allies so that they could take the appropriate measures. What is briefed up to the President in this case was not the case. It was never briefed to the President of the United States, because there is no consensus. What is briefed to the President is when there’s a strategic decision to be made, so in this case, if there was a strategic decision to be made vis-a-vis Russia, those are the kind of things that are briefed to the President when they are deemed credible. But in this case, it was not briefed to the President. There’s no consensus. It was not credible. But make no mistake, this President will always protect American troops. 

SINK: I’m sorry just to follow up on that. I think there’s two points on that. One, I would say that press secretaries in the past have disclosed in certain instances what is in the PDB, but secondly, I mean, this is a relevant issue because I think critics have already seized on this and said well, if the President is not reading his PDB, he may not know that are these policy decisions need to be made, right? If a President is presented with the information, it's unverified, he could be alarmed, change his posture toward Russia, conceivably ask intelligence officials to work harder to determine whether or not this is true, make, you know, a series judgment and so I guess more broadly, you know, I would re-ask the question of whether it was in his material, but as you maybe to defend why the President isn't necessarily reading his PDB when there are these issues that could arise.

MCENANY: The President does read and he also consumes intelligence verbally. [INAUDIBLE SINK SHOUTING] This President, I will tell you, is the most informed person on planet Earth when it comes to the threats that we face. You have ambassador O’Brien who sees him in person twice a day who sometimes take the upwards of half a dozen calls with this President. He is constantly being informed and briefed on intelligence matters, but I'm not going to allow The New York Times to dictate when we give top-secret information and don't give top-secret information. That’s an untenable proposition.

This topic would then dominate the briefing with only four non-Russia questions in briefing (two of which were about Bruce Orr and two about the coronavirus), so when it came to getting answers for the American public on issues like the pandemic and police reform to name a few, the liberal media gave them the middle finger.

To see the relevant transcript from June 30's briefing, click “expand.”

White House Press Briefing
June 30, 2020
3:49 p.m. Eastern

KAYLEIGH MCENANY: The front page of The New York Times is not the venue for discussing classified information. The White House podium is not the venue for discussing classified information. We are here today having this discussion because of an irresponsible, anonymous leak to The New York Times. There is no good if scenario as a result of this New York Times report. Who's going to want to cooperate with the United States intelligence community? Who's going to want to be a source or an assets if they know that their identity could be disclosed? Which allies will want to share information with us if they know that some rogue intelligence officer can go splash that information on the front page of a major U. S. newspaper. Specifically, there are two bad scenarios that emerge from this report. Number one, this report makes it more difficult to come to a consensus on this matter to verify intelligence and number two, this level of controversy and discord plays directly into the hands of Russia and unfortunately serves their interests. Since before President Trump assumed office, damaging and often times erroneous leaks seeking to undermine or delegitimize the duly-elected President have been published. According to the DOJ, classified leaks surged and his administration. There were under President Obama just thirty nine on average criminal leak referrals. In this administration, we've seen 100 criminal leak referrals to the DOJ in 2017, 88 in 2018, and 104 on average per year. We have seen targeted leaks of classified information against this President and it is irresponsible. Phone calls with foreign leaders, meetings with government officials, and now reports of alleged intelligence. Make no mistake this damages our ability as a nation to collect intelligence. As the National Security Council noted just yesterday, to those government officials who betrayed the trust of the people of the United States by leaking classified information, your actions endanger our national security. The ODNI said the selective leaking of any classified information disrupts the vital inter-agency work to collect, assess, and mitigate threats in places our forces at risk. It is also simply put a crime and finally the CIA said this week that leaks compromise and disrupt the critical interagency work to collect, assess, and scribe culpability. To the anonymous sources who leak classified information, you should know this. You may seek to undermine our President but in fact, you undermine our country safety and our country security and with that, I'll take questions. Kristin.

KRISTIN FISHER: Thank you, Kayleigh. When did White House officials first learn that this intelligence about Russian bounties existed? 

MCENANY: I will say this. The President was never briefed on this. This intelligence still has not been verified and there’s no consensus among the intelligence community. 

FISHER: Does the President wish that he had been briefed sooner? I mean, today Joe Biden called it a dereliction of duty. 

MCENANY: This is a piece of intelligence information that had no consensus, has not been verified, still to this day has not been verified today and there are several agencies on the record noting that. You have the Department of Defense saying that they have no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations. The NSC allegations in recent press articles have not been verified or substantiated by the intelligence community and the ODNI. We are still investigating the intelligence referenced in recent reporting, but that didn't stop The New York Times from putting it on the very first page of their newspaper and stopping us from getting to an ultimate conclusion and ultimate place of having a consensus on the intelligence. Darlene?

FISHER: One more question, if this intelligence does turn out to be true, is the President prepared to take some serious action against Russia and Vladimir Putin? 

MCENANY: The President has always taken tough, unadulterated action against Russia. We saw that there is no diplomatic presence on the west coast of our country of Russia because the President closed the consulates. We saw he expelled 60 Russian officers, sanctioned hundreds of targets, withdrew from the IMF treaty, the open skies treaty, trying to halt NORDSTREAM, still trying to do that, impose visa sanctions, and many other actions. So, make no mistake, this President is prepared to act and will always act with attracting our Americans troops. We saw in Syria and the strikes in 2018 that dozens of Russian mercenaries were killed. He will always act, to protect American troops. That is indeed his track record. Darlene.

REPORTER: There’s a briefing — an intel briefing on the President's schedule today. Will this matter be part of his briefing this afternoon?

MCENANY: The President has been briefed on what is unfortunately in the public domain because of The New York Times, and the irresponsible leaks. Yes, he has been briefed. but there is no consensus on this intelligence that still has yet to be verified.

(….)

3:55 p.m. Eastern

JUSTIN SINK: I want to look back on you saying the President never being briefed. I think the dispute is whether in February his PDB included the information, so I’m wondering if you can say whether or not he may not have read the briefing book that he was presented but was he at some point at least given access to this information.

MCENANY: So, the PDB is a top–secret document that is widely disseminated among government. I will never sit here and confirm or deny what is in a top-secret document, so I’ll leave it at that. One thing I will say that is routine is when there is intelligent — I was speaking with folks about this earlier and some other folks around the White House, when we get intelligence, verified or unverified, incredible or not credible, deemed consensus or no consensus, if that information in any way impinges upon the safety of our troops, that information goes to our troops on the ground and to our allies so that they could take the appropriate measures. What is briefed up to the President in this case was not the case. It was never briefed to the President of the United States, because there is no consensus. What is briefed to the President is when there’s a strategic decision to be made, so in this case, if there was a strategic decision to be made vis-a-vis Russia, those are the kind of things that are briefed to the President when they are deemed credible. But in this case, it was not briefed to the President. There’s no consensus. It was not credible. But make no mistake, this President will always protect American troops. 

SINK: I’m sorry just to follow up on that. I think there’s two points on that. One, I would say that press secretaries in the past have disclosed in certain instances what is in the PDB, but secondly, I mean, this is a relevant issue because I think critics have already seized on this and said well, if the President is not reading his PDB, he may not know that are these policy decisions need to be made, right? If a President is presented with the information, it's unverified, he could be alarmed, change his posture toward Russia, conceivably ask intelligence officials to work harder to determine whether or not this is true, make, you know, a series judgment and so I guess more broadly, you know, I would re-ask the question of whether it was in his material, but as you maybe to defend why the President isn't necessarily reading his PDB when there are these issues that could arise.

MCENANY: The President does read and he also consumes intelligence verbally. [INAUDIBLE SINK SHOUTING] This President, I will tell you, is the most informed person on planet Earth when it comes to the threats that we face. You have ambassador O’Brien who sees him in person twice a day who sometimes take the upwards of half a dozen calls with this President. He is constantly being informed and briefed on intelligence matters, but I'm not going to allow The New York Times to dictate when we give top-secret information and don't give top-secret information. 

SINK: But I mean, just for the —

MCENANY: That’s an untenable proposition.

SINK: — the trickle there then —

(….)

3:59 p.m. Eastern

REPORTER: And then one more, if I may, a thing about leakers. Democrat lawmakers are calling for a briefing from intelligence officials. They aren’t satisfied with the White House personnel today. Is there a concern to brief Democratic lawmakers, especially Adam Schiff, given the leaks out of his committee?

MCENANY: Look, I mean, I think that Democrats should come forward in good faith and if anyone has politicalized intelligence, we’ve had The New York Times acting entirely irresponsibly and you have the Democratic Party politicizing this information, which I think is absolutely disgraceful.

(….)

4:02 p.m. Eastern

DAVID JACKSON: You — you said it was targeted leaking in The New York Times. Who is doing the targeting and why are they doing it?

MCENANY: It's a great question, but these are rogue intelligence officers who are imperiling our troops’ lives. We will not be able to get — very likely not be able to get a consensus on this intelligence because of what is looked to The New York Times. And you have both the NSC, ODNI, and CIA all noting what damage this leak does, not just to the safety of the troops, which is paramount, but the ability of the United states to aggregate information from our allies and have assets and have — get this valuable information. So who's doing this? It’s — 

JACKSON: Members of the NSC are going after Trump. Is that what you’re saying?

MCENANY: It very possibly could be and, if that’s the case, it is absolutely despicable. Yes?

REPORTER: On that, is the Trump administration doing anything or taking action like an audit of the IC or what steps are you planning on taking to try to find the source of the leaks?

MCENANY: Well, make no mistake. The DOJ has done several criminal leak referrals. 120 in 2017, 88 in 2018, 104 on average per year under President Trump, so we do take those steps. And we do have a President who ultimately when it comes down to the safety of our troops, he doesn't take impulsive actions, he takes deliberate action. And we saw that in the killing of Soleimani and the killing of al-Baghdadi, and the protecting of our troops and at the same time, when you had Iran who shot down a drone, he chose not to strike back in that instance. He chose to protect civilians, protect our troops. It was a measured response. It was the proportionate response and ultimately, the ultimate way to protect American troops is to not get into needless foreign wars. This President is on record for decades and decades and decades opposing foreign wars in — Iraq is a great example. A 20 — nearly two-decade war. You have this President who, when Washington was unanimous saying we’re going into Iraq, this President said no, that's not the right decision. He’s wound down our troop presence in Afghanistan and Iraq and he’s ultimately protected American troops and kept this country safe and this present — President has a very strong foreign policy record to be incredibly proud of, thank you.



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