In his first press conference since last summer, Donald Trump packed the lobby of Trump Tower with his aides, who applauded for him and laughed at his jokes. He proceeded to blast the publication of a private intelligence report that allegedly detailed his inner circle's connection to Russia, insisted that the Affordable Care Act would be repealed and quickly replaced with a different plan, had an attorney explain it was too hard for him to put his assets in a blind trust, called BuzzFeed "a pile of garbage" and ended the session by spitting out his catchphrase, "You're fired." 2017 is 11 days old.
To open the press conference, Trump had his incoming press secretary Sean Spicer and incoming vice-president Mike Pence condemn BuzzFeed for publishing the Trump/Russia dossier. "It is frankly outrageous for a left-wing blog to drop salacious information just days before the president-elect takes office," Spicer said. Spicer also denied that Trump knew Carter Page, who was named in the report, which would contradict Trump's claim that he had hired Page to his foreign policy team during the election.
Pence also blasted the press for the report, claiming to have respect for a free press but blasting the publication of the memo as "an attempt to demean the President-elect."
Trump spent the first section of his press conference blasting BuzzFeed, CNN and American intelligence for the report's publication. Trump also suggested that CNN had published the same memo that BuzzFeed did, instead of just reporting that Trump and President Obama had each been briefed on it, which CNN clarified after the conference. "It's all fake news, it never happened," Trump said of the allegations in the report, without going into specifics. "It was a group of opponents of mine, sick people, they got together and released that crap," he claimed.
Continuing the war between Trump and the intelligence community, Trump said it "would be a tremendous blot on" the intelligence community if someone involved in it had leaked the report. Trump did try to reassure the press in attendance that he had "great respect for news and the freedom of the press and all of that."
Trump also, after weeks of speculating otherwise, said he believed that Russia was behind the DNC hacks. He qualified the statement by saying, "We also get hacked by other people" and that "the DNC could have had a hacking defense." The email hacks were also praised by Trump, who said of them, "hacking is bad and shouldn't be done. But look what was learned from that hacking."
Telling reporters that "my business is much bigger and much more powerful than people realized," Trump then turned the podium over to Sheri A. Dillon, an attorney from a law firm in charge of what he was calling his divestment from his the Trump Organization. Dillon compared Trump's wealth and business holdings to Nelson Rockefeller, who once served as vice-president and came from one of the wealthiest families in the history of the country.
Trump's lawyer likened his holdings to Ford's VP Nelson Rockefeller, said no one asked to see Rockefeller's tax returns. Wrong. pic.twitter.com/9Gu9UqUu0B
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) January 11, 2017
According to Dillon, Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump will be in charge of the Trump Organization moving forward, and Trump's holdings in the company, both liquid assets like cash and bonds and illiquid assets like real estate holdings and branding agreements will be placed into a trust. Dillon promised Trump would only know about new domestic deals by the organization "if he reads it in the paper or sees it on TV."
Dillon also wanted the American people to know the hardship involved with Trump's cancellation of deals, which had apparently cost him and his children "millions of dollars." As for Trump placing his assets in a truly blind trust—which would have to be unconnected to his family members—Dillon said it would be too hard and would sacrifice too much of the value of the Trump brand, for which he would be entitled to royalties anyway.
In order to avoid a seeming attempt at bribing Trump by staying at any of his hotels, Dillon told the room that Trump has ordered all of his properties to donate money given to them by foreign governments directly to the U.S. Treasury. The legality of this arrangement is already being questioned.
Taking the podium again, Trump said that as soon as his Health and Human Services secretary was confirmed by the Senate, he would go forward with "a repeal and replace plan. Very complicated stuff," while failing to give details about what the new version of a health care bill would look like.
Trump also insisted that Mexico would be paying for a border wall, which he also insisted would be a wall and not a fence. "I could wait a year and a half to finish negotiations with Mexico but I don’t want to wait," Trump explained. "I don’t feel like waiting a year or year and a half. Mexico in some form will reimburse us for the cost of the wall. Whether it’s a tax or a payment."
Trump then took another question about BuzzFeed's publication of the memos detailing his alleged Russian connection. Trump responded by calling the website "a failing pile of garbage" and promised that they would "suffer the consequences" for publishing the report. Trump again suggested that the report was leaked by a member of the intelligence community, which he said was "something that Nazi Germany would do and did do."
When CNN's Jim Acosta tried to ask Trump a question, he responded by saying "Your organization’s terrible" and called the channel "fake news." Continuing on the fake news theme, Trump said "I’ve been hearing more and more about fake news," that some of the outlets covering him are fake news and that "they're sitting here in front of me."
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 11, 2017
— CNN International (@cnni) January 11, 2017
On the subject of Russia, Trump promised that Vladimir Putin will respect America more with Trump in charge, and that in fact "all countries will respect us far more than they have under past administrations." Trump also said that "if Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset and not a liability."
Finally, Trump ended the press conference by saying he can't wait to get back to the Trump Organization in eight years and tell his large adult sons they did a great job. And if not, he would tell them "you're fired." What a pisser, this guy, our next President and Commander-in-Chief of our military and CEO of America's fabulous nuclear arsenal.