But while making her case, McEnany appeared to contradict Trump on two key points, and also offered explanations about intelligence-gathering that didn’t make sense to seasoned experts.
But McEnany said Monday that Trump “has not been briefed on this matter.” Her denial raised immediate questions, considering reports that US officials had briefed their British counterparts.
She also said the US government is still determining the veracity of the underlying intelligence, which undercuts Trump’s suggestion that US intelligence agencies had already deemed it unreliable.
“There is no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations,” McEnany said, a phrase that she repeated multiple times during her news conference. “In fact, there are dissenting opinions from some in the intelligence community with regard to the veracity of what’s being reported. And the veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated.”
McEnany did not outright deny the underlying allegations against Russia, but repeatedly tried to cast doubt about the information. She criticized the news organizations that published the articles and said several times that there was “no consensus” among US intelligence agencies.
Her efforts drew some quick rebukes from national security and intelligence experts on Twitter.
National security experts also balked at McEnany’s assertion that intelligence about such a sensitive matter would “not be elevated to the President until it was verified.” The point of these briefings, experts say, is to keep the president abreast of new intelligence and insights, which can be fast-changing, so briefings include assessments about the credibility of the information.
Throughout her news conference, McEnany spent more time criticizing American journalists than condemning Russia for its aggressive moves against US interests, which includes the bounties in Afghanistan, election interference in 2016, and military actions in Syria and Ukraine.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the name of the President’s Daily Brief. It also has been updated with additional reporting.