White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Friday again blamed the Obama administration for a depleted Strategic National Stockpile of medical gear three years into President Donald Trump's term, claiming their predecessors left the "stockpile empty" and failed to warn them about the diminished supplies.
She added the Obama administration's foreign policy, which she said led to bioterrorism threats, was to blame.
"We were on the brink of -- we were in very hostile confrontations with several powers because of the Obama administration's foreign policy, and there were really bioterrorism threats. ... That was the immediate threat that the administration focused on in terms of the stockpile," she said, despite the fact that the Trump administration's own biodefense strategy was put forward nearly two years before the pandemic.
McEnany's claims come 10 days after ABC's "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir pressed Trump on what he had done in his three years in office to restock the cupboards he claimed had been left empty.
"You're now applying for the job again. What did you do when you became president to restock those cupboards that you say were bare?" Muir asked.
"I have a lot of things going on," Trump told Muir in an interview in Phoenix. "We had a lot of people that refused to allow the country to be successful. They wasted a lot of time on Russia, Russia, Russia. That turned out to be a total hoax. Then they did Ukraine, Ukraine, and that was a total hoax, then they impeached the president of the United States for absolutely no reason."
Reporters at the White House pressed McEnany on the same point: What did the administration do to restock the stockpile in its first three years?
"Immediately, when it became clear a pandemic was the concern over bioterrorism, we transitioned as quickly as humanly possible and filled the empty cupboards left by President Obama," she said.
In 2018, Trump disbanded the Obama administration's National Security Council directorate for global health and security and bio-defense, which was in charge of preparing for future pandemics, according to the Associated Press.