"Attacking Kayleigh McEnany is insane": Right-wingers turn on Trump over Truth Social attack

"This nonsense from Trump is a disgrace," a former aide said

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published May 31, 2023 11:53AM (EDT)

U.S. President Donald Trump introduces White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany at a Make America Great Again campaign rally on October 19, 2020 in Prescott, Arizona. (Caitlin O'Hara/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump introduces White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany at a Make America Great Again campaign rally on October 19, 2020 in Prescott, Arizona. (Caitlin O'Hara/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump is facing a deluge of criticism after he attacked Fox News host Kayleigh McEnany, his former White House press secretary, on social media Tuesday.

Trump went after McEnany on Truth Social after she referenced poll numbers for the 2024 Republican primary, which Trump claimed were false, during an appearance on the conservative news network's "Jesse Waters Primetime" on Tuesday. 

"The DeSantis team would say, you know, 'We just had polling come out that shows we closed the gap by 9 points since we announced in Iowa,'" McEnany said during the segment. "Still, Trump's hugely ahead, but they say they're closing the gap. That's their argument… If you look at the polling now, it was Trump 34 in Iowa, it's now Trump 25."

Trump spouted off against McEnany in response, calling the "Outnumbered" co-host milquetoast, though he misspelled the term.

"Kayleigh 'Milktoast' McEnany just gave out the wrong poll numbers on FoxNews," Trump posted. "I am 34 points up on DeSanctimonious, not 25 up. While 25 is great, it's not 34."

"She knew the number was corrected upwards by the group that did the poll," he continued. "The RINOS & Globalists can have her. FoxNews should only use REAL Stars!!!"

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, added to Trump's tirade against the anchor in a Tuesday night appearance on "The Ingraham Angle," where McEnany was filling in, as he discussed the debt deal President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reached over the weekend. 

When McEnany asked Roy what he felt would be a "realistic alternative" to the agreement, which would raise the debt ceiling until January 2025 among other measures, Roy responded with a reference to Trump's Truth Social post.

"Everything that we're seeing out of… this deal hatched this weekend is pretty milquetoast, if that word might mean something to you," he told McEnany, according to The Daily Beast, before explaining his opposition to the deal. 

"The alternative is pretty simple: you have about $28 or $29 billion in COVID funds, you have $80 billion in IRS money—all of us agreed it should go away," he added. "The No. 1 thing we campaigned on was getting rid of that IRS money."

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Trump's attack, however, drew the ire of some conservatives, including several of his former White House aides and staffers during his 2020 campaign for the presidency, many of whom flocked to McEnany's defense, Mediaite reports

"This nonsense from Trump is a disgrace. @kayleighmcenany slayed the fake news hoaxers and the liberal media activists day in and day out for years," Matt Wolking, a former deputy director of communications for Trump in 2020, tweeted. "She took countless arrows defending him and she was great at it."

Former Trump legal advisor Jenna Ellis also agreed with criticism of the GOP frontrunner's post, which said that the former president's insult was a "bad pitch for a second term," in a tweet of her own.

"I will simply leave this here for when people ask why I and *many* others didn't return for 2024," she said.

Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade slammed Trump and defended his colleague on "Fox & Friends" while covering Republican primary candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' "subtle shots at Trump" during a recent Iowa stump speech.

"Restoring sanity means we've got every major institution in our country going in ideological joyrides; we have to be guided by reality, by facts, and our enduring principles," Kilmeade read from DeSantis' speech.

"Three shots at common weaknesses of the president," Kilmeade said. "They see you make things up. They say he's he flies off the handle. For example, attacking Kayleigh McEnany is insane. She was one of the best press secretaries ever. Dana Perino, as Ari Fleischer watching to say she was fantastic, but she's an analyst now. She doesn't work for any campaign."

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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Aggregate Brian Kilmeade Chip Roy Donald Trump Kayleigh Mcenany Politics