White House initiated contact tracing after aide tested positive: spokeswoman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Contact tracing was put into place at the White House immediately after Trump aide Hope Hicks tested positive for coronavirus, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks in the Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 1, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

“Immediately there was contact tracing that was put into place and all of the necessary procedures,” McEnany said without elaborating on when Hicks received her positive result.

She said Trump got his positive result on Thursday night and “within an hour, we put out that information to the American people.”

In separate remarks to reporters, McEnany said it was considered safe for Trump to travel to his resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, for a private fundraiser on Thursday.

“It was deemed safe for the president to go. He socially distanced, it was an outdoor event and it was deemed safe by White House operations for him to attend that event,” she said.

She also told reporters she was not aware that Hicks had tested positive when she held a briefing at the White House on Thursday morning.

Trump did not participate in the one item remaining on his schedule on Friday, but McEnany said he had telephone calls with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham. She said he discussed emergency declarations and the coronavirus stimulus package with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

“We’re just trying to make sure that he takes it easy but he’s hard at work and will continue to,” she said on Fox.

She declined to say whether Trump would make a national address.

“It’s safe to say that you’ll be seeing and hearing from the president as he moves forward with his working schedule,” she said. “We’re exploring a number of different ways to do that, but he wants to talk to the American people.”

Reporting by Alexandra Alper, Steve Holland and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Diane Craft and Daniel Wallis

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White House spokeswoman says Trump ‘did not misspeak’ at debate and denounced white supremacy

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany repeatedly refused Thursday to denounce white supremacists and insisted that President Donald Trump had spoken against racism at the chaotic presidential debate Tuesday.

After ticking off a list of times that Trump denounced white supremacy, McEnany said Trump responded appropriately at the debate when he said the Proud Boys should “stand by” amid racial justice protests nationwide.

“No, he did not misspeak,” McEnany said.

In a fiery press briefing, McEnany repeatedly derided journalists for supposedly spreading #FakeNews about Trump and accused them of a double standard for interrupting her when she dodged questions.

“The media goes haywire about interruptions at the debate but does the very same thing at this briefing,” said McEnany, referring to widespread public criticism of Trump’s repeatedly interrupting debate rival Joe Biden and moderator Chris Wallace.

John Roberts of the usually Trump-friendly Fox News launched an extraordinary angry on-air defense of the questioning.

“It’s a question that needs to be asked, and clearly (Republicans) are looking for an answer for it too,” Roberts, the typically stoic White House correspondent, told a Fox anchor in a live segment. “So stop deflecting. Stop blaming the media. I’m tired of it.”

McEnany also firmly defended Trump’s plans to stage mass rallies in coronavirus hot spots in battleground Wisconsin, despite pleas from public health experts to avoid gatherings in places where the virus is spreading virtually unchecked.

“There are two standards: one for Trump supporters and one for everyone else,” McEnany said, shrugging off concerns about the spread of COVID-19. “Somehow political speech is not vital if you are a Trump supporter.”

The president plans to hold rallies in Green Bay and La Crosse over the weekend. Both metro areas are grappling with deadly coronavirus outbreaks with Green Bay ranked No. 3 and La Crosse at No. 11 in the list of most cases in the entire nation during the past week.

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