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President Trump and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany

Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday refused to tell reporters, after repeated inquiries, what "river" Donald Trump was referencing when he alleged that ballots had been "found" in "a river."

In remarks to the press last Thursday, Trump made the allegation as part of his ongoing attacks on mail-in voting.

"It was reported in one of the newspapers that they found a lot of ballots in a river," Trump claimed. "They throw them out if they have the name 'Trump' on it, I guess. But they had ballots."


Trump has repeatedly attacked the integrity of mail-in ballots while many voters have said they plan to vote by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

McEnany was asked to clarify which river Trump was referring to. She then cited a story about ballots being found in a "ditch."

The reporter then asked her to clarify what "river" Trump was referring to in his statement. Instead of answering, McEnany complained that the reporter was "missing the forest for the trees" and accused him of wanting to "ignore" the facts.

"I want to know where the river is. Where's the river?" he replied.

McEnany would not answer, and instead said the reporter lacked "journalistic curiosity."

"I'm very curious," the reporter responded. "Where is the river?"

McEnany never answered.


From an Oct. 1 White House press briefing:

REPORTER: As you know, the president has criticized the mail-in voting process quite a bit over the last few weeks. The other day, he said "they found a lot of ballots in a river." Who is "they"?
KAYLEIGH McENANY: So, what the president was referring to are, something that we've seen in the last seven days where in Wisconsin there were trails of mail ending up in a ditch, I believe that's specific he was referring to and that included absentee ballots.
REPORTER: Where specifically, in this particular statement though, who is "they" that found those ballots and where is this river anywhere in this country?
McENANY: The local authorities, it was a ditch in Wisconsin that they were found in, I can get the article to your inbox if you'd like. And beyond that—
REPORTER: If he misspoke, that's fine.
McENANY: No, that's, I believe—
REPORTER: He meant a ditch rather than a river?
McENANY: And you're really missing the forest for the trees here, the point is—
REPORTER: I cover the news and I like to report accurately in 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.
McENANY: No, you simply want to ignore the fact of the matter—
REPORTER: I got asked so many questions from my Fox affiliates, where is this river?
[CROSSTALK]
McENANY: This is what is happening here. You're ignoring the problem here, which is last week, in Pennsylvania, you had ballots found in a ditch. That is a fact. In Wisconsin, seven military ballots, all marked for Trump, were found cast aside. There are problems with mass mail-in voting. I actually don't understand the lack of journalistic curiosity and reporting on this.
REPORTER: I want to know where the river is. Where's the river?
McENANY: There used to be curiosity, in fact the Washington Post before President Trump highlighted the problems with mail-in voting, they said, "the result was an unexpected stress test of mail balloting systems when this was tried, many of which were designed to only handle a small portion of the vote and are not ready to scale up in response to the pandemic."
So the media once said —
REPORTER: So there is no river.
McENANY: -- "mail-in voting is not ready to scale up in the middle of a pandemic," now there's no journalistic curiosity when we're finding Trump ballots cast aside—
SECOND REPORTER: He's asking you about it.
McENANY: There's no journalistic curiosity when 100,000—
REPORTER: I'm asking you where the river is and you can't give an answer.
McENANY: — ballots were sent out in Brooklyn.
[CROSSTALK]
McENANY: Thank you for filibustering and lack of journalistic curiosity.
REPORTER: I'm very curious. Where is the river?

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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