On Wednesday, Donald Trump held his first official news conference as president-elect in Trump tower. The official reason for the news conference was to announce how he would be separating himself from his business, but The New York Times reports that much more happened while Trump spoke to the press.
One of the biggest things to come from the news conference: Trump has finally admitted that Russia may have been behind the hacking of the 2016 election. Hearing Trump say, “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” is a bit of a shock after he denied these findings for weeks. It seems that the briefing he received from U.S. intelligence officials may have given him enough evidence to finally change his mind. However, later in the conference he backtracked a bit, claiming that “it could have been others also.” He also blamed the Democratic National Committee for the hacking, which he believes was caused by their poor cyber-security measures, CNN reports. He has also requested that intelligence agencies create a report on “hacking defense” examining the situation and other hacking incidents, which the Times reports is to be released 90 days after he takes office.
When questioned further about Russia’s involvement in the election, Trump said that it’s actually a good thing that Russia likes him and that it may allow the U.S. and Russia to work together better on some important international issues. He also believes that with him as America’s leader, Russia will have greater respect for our country. He chose not to answer a question on whether himself or anyone on his campaign staff had contact with Russia throughout the campaign.
Speaking later on the true subject of the news conference, it turns out that Trump’s decided not to divest from his businesses—meaning he’ll still have a financial stake. While this is legal, it’s definitely a real concern that Trump’s business interests will affect his political decisions. His sons will take over the business, and according to Trump, “They’re not going to discuss it with me.” Lawyer Sheri Dillon told the press that Trump wants there to be no doubt that he is “separating himself from his business interests”—he’ll resign from his positions within the Trump Organization, which will also be appointing an ethics adviser to their management team to ensure Trump is not involved in any dealings.
Trump also commented on his plans for the Affordable Care Act. All he had to say was that he was going to repeal and replace it, but he didn’t seem to have any details on what that replacement will be. In other vague statements, he reiterated that Mexico will pay for the border wall, but said it may not be an actual “payment,” but rather a tax of some sort.
Of course, Trump made sure to use the opportunity of a press conference to berate the press. He called BuzzFeed “a failing pile of garbage,” and got into a fight with CNN’s Jim Acosta, saying things like “your organization’s terrible” and “you are fake news,” the Times reports. He threatened consequences to the news organizations like these two that he believes have posted “fake news.” His spokesman Sean Spicer opened the conference with a comment about these news organizations’ “political witch hunt,” according to CNN. But don’t worry, Trump says he has “great respect for freedom of the press.”
Inauguration is only nine days away. Are we ready for this?