Highlights of Trump Press Conference

January 11, 2017 11:52 AM

Trump feisty against 'fake news'

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The following are key comments made today by President-elect Donald Trump at his first press conference since being elected president.

Trump said Supreme Court nomination coming soon. Trump said he plans to announce a Supreme Court nomination within two weeks of his inauguration January 20. Trump said meetings with “numerous candidates” have already taken place from among his list of 20 possible candidates that was made public during the campaign in 2016. “They were outstanding in every case.” Trump credited Federalist Society executive president Leonard Leo and Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint with helping formulate the list. “We have a great group of people,” he said. Trump also praised the “great great” late Justice Antonin Scalia whose seat his nominee would fill. The nomination is a top priority, Trump said, because the future of the Supreme Court was a major reason he got elected. “The people of this country did not want to see what was happening with the Supreme Court,” Trump said.

Insists Mexico will eventually pay for the wall. Asked about reports that Trump was going to ask Congress to pay for building a wall on the southern border, Trump rejected suggestions that he was reneging on his promise to have Mexico pay for it. He said Mexico will eventually reimburse the US, but that he did not want to wait a year or more for negotiations with Mexico over the issue before starting to build the wall. "This will happen, whether it’s a tax or a payment," he stated, though did acknowledge a payment seemed unlikely.

Said the days of companies moving their operations overseas are over. "It's not going to happen that way anymore," he said, repeating his campaign vow to impose a heavy tax on companies that shift jobs to Mexico or other countries.

Trump welcomed an ObamaCare question on repeal and replace. “Finally!” Trump said regarding the first question on ObamaCare, the health law he wants to abolish. He promised to file a plan that would repeal and replace ObamaCare “almost simultaneously.” There has been some discussion among Republicans in Congress of holding a vote to repeal the law quickly, but delaying its effect to allow time to devise an alternative to replace it.

Trump on drug prices: Pharma companies are ‘getting away with murder’. Trump said that he would change the way the country bids on drugs to bring spending and prices down. He accused the industry of "getting away with murder." "Pharma has a lot of lobbies, a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power. And there's very little bidding on drugs. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don't bid properly," Trump said.

Lawyer: No violation of emoluments clause. Trump’s attorney, Sheri Dillon, said that Trump is not in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. That clause says “No person holding any office or profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” She said he would donate profits from payments by any foreign government to his hotels to the US Treasury.

Steps Trump is taking on his conflicts of interest. Dillon detailed the steps he was taking to avoid conflicts of interest. While critics have urged Trump to completely divest, Dillon argued that would not eliminate conflicts of interest.

  • His sons would run the family business without his participation or knowledge.
  • His daughter Ivanka would also stay out of the Trump Organization’s business.
  • An ethics officer would be appointed to the Trump Organization to monitor deals and other business activities.
  • The business would make no foreign deals for the duration of his presidency.
  • Domestic deals would be allowed, but he would know nothing about them except what he learns from the media.
  • Dillon said that the restrictions in the new Trump trust that is being set up to own his assets prohibit his company from getting involved in new foreign deals.

— Trump will put his assets into a trust and relinquish control of his business to his two adult sons in an effort to avoid conflicts of interest during his presidency, an attorney said. Trump will sever management ties to the Trump Organization and play no role in its operations, under the terms of the trust. While he is in office, his real estate empire will abide by “severe restrictions on all new deals,” the attorney said. If foreign governments make payments to his hotels — including a new one near the White House — Trump plans to donate all profits to the US Treasury, the attorney said.

Said he would not release his tax documents and the public doesn’t care. The evidence, he said: He won the election.

Trump stressed that he has no business interests in Russia. Trump declared that he could be running his company if he wanted to but he has decided he did not "like the way it looks." He pointed to stacks of papers on a table alongside his podium and said they represented some of the documents turning over his international empire to his sons, Eric and Don Jr. “They’re not going to discuss it with me,” Trump said. Trump also said he turned down a $2 billion deal over the weekend to do a project in Dubai.

Trump said he knows about possibility of secret cameras. When a reporter alluded to reports in the dossier of salacious activities in a Moscow hotel, he said he assumed that there were cameras monitoring people everywhere, that he advises all the staff who travel abroad with him, “Be very careful in your hotel rooms.” And he added, “I’m also very much of a germophobe.” His cautions to his staff included that if they do not conduct themselves properly, they will appear on the evening news.

Trump talks of steps on intelligence meetings to determine if there are leaks. Trump criticized leaks of intelligence information, acknowledging there are cases where it could have come from his own people. But he detailed  he had a meeting with intelligence officials and told none of his own staff about the meeting, including his long-time personal assistant. Yet despite those steps, Trump said word got out after the meeting that it indeed had taken place.

Trump said Putin friendship could be asset. Asked to comment on evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin was aiming to help him win the election, Trump said that a good relationship with Russia and its leaders would be a good thing and not a cause for worry. “If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset not a liability,” he said. And he took a swipe at Hillary Clinton when he said, whether he got along with Putin or not, “Do you honestly believe that Hillary Clinton would have been tougher on Putin than me?”

Trump said Russia hacked DNC, blasts 'fake news'. Trump turned to what dubbed “fake news” to describe reports about his alleged ties to the Russian government. “I think it’s a disgrace,” Trump said, calling the opponents who hired a spy to put the report together “sick people... "It's all fake news. It's phony stuff. It didn't happen," he said. After repeatedly expressing doubt about intelligence reports that Russia hacked into the Democratic National Committee to influence the 2016 election, Trump said: “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia.” He added that other people and other countries are also trying to infiltrate the US. Trump did, however, state that the intelligence efforts by the US government were vital and important.

— Trump praised media outlets who did not report 'fake news.' Trump, who was typically combative toward the press during the campaign, continued that stance with CNN, refusing to take a question from Jim Acosta, saying "I'm not going to give you a question. You are fake news." However, he praised news organizations who decided not to publish the report. "I want to thank a lot of the news organizations, some who have not treated me very well over the years. … They came out so strongly against this fake news. I have a great respect of the news and freedom of the press." CNN reported on Tuesday that US officials briefed Trump and President Obama on allegations that the Russian government has compromising personal and financial information about him. 

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material; therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.