"I very quickly came around and supported the president," Kayleigh McEnany said Friday

By Sean Neumann
May 08, 2020 02:15 PM
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White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on May 1.
Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock

The past caught up quickly to White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

Newly reviewed CNN footage published Thursday from her time as a paid contributor at the network in 2015 — along with a detailed timeline of some of her past comments — shows McEnany was a regular critic of her now-boss President Donald Trump.

She's not the only one: Trump's rapid political ascent saw him disrupt, anger and then win over numerous conservatives on his unlikely road to the White House (among them, Sens. Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham).

The same polarizing style that provoked their anger was also key to the success that seemingly changed their minds.

According to CNN, McEnany previously said Trump's 2015 comments that some Mexican migrants were "rapists" were "racist."

She also showed disdain that Trump was on the path to become president in 2016, calling him a "showman" and an "inauthentic" representative of the Republican Party.

"To me, a racist statement is a racist statement. I don't like what Donald Trump said," McEnany said on CNN in June 2015, adding that his remarks about Mexican immigrants were "derogatory."

"Donald Trump has shown himself to be a showman, I don't think he is a serious candidate," McEnany continued then. "I think it is a sideshow. It's not within the mainstream of the candidates."

A 32-year-old Harvard Law School alumnae, McEnany took over as Trump's fourth press secretary in mid-April after Stephanie Grisham left the post to return to working full time with First Lady Melania Trump.

McEnany held her third press briefing on Friday. There, she strongly criticized CNN and said she acted "naively" in believing the network's news reporting, but she stopped short of officially walking back her earlier anti-Trump comments.

"I support this president," McEnany said. "There's no questioning that."

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
Win McNamee/Getty
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty

McEnany's past criticism of Trump went beyond CNN. On Fox Business' Kennedy program in June 2015, she voiced her concerns as well.

"I appreciate his boldness and I think some of his rhetoric got the base excited, but it is not welcome rhetoric," McEnany said then. "Some of the things we heard in his speech when he said, 'When Mexico sends people across the border, they're sending criminals and rapists and maybe some good people.' Look, the GOP doesn't need to be turning away voters and isolating them. We need to be bringing them into the tent. Donald Trump is the last person who's going to do that."

Later that month, she appeared on CNN to again denounce Trump's comments.

"I want to make clear, I don't support what Donald Trump said," she said. "I think he said something very unartful, very inappropriate."

Soon after, McEnany said Trump is "a Republican in name only."

"I don't want to claim this guy," she said at the time. "Donald Trump, if we're going to be honest, is a progressive. He supports eminent domain. He supported tax increases before. He's donated $300,000 to Democratic candidates. So, the fact that the Republican Party is now having to claim him is both unfortunate, and to me, inauthentic, because this is not a true Republican candidate. And the fact that he's being portrayed as such in media is troublesome and not accurate."

After the 2016 election, McEnany became the national spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee before taking on the role of White House press secretary last month.

"I very quickly came around and supported the president," McEnany said Friday.