Donald Trump held his first press conference in months today at Trump Tower in New York City, just nine days before he is sworn in as the next president of the United States.
The conference came at an inopportune time for the president-elect after BuzzFeed News published an unsubstantiated intelligence report Tuesday night that made claims about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia during the election and about his own personal behavior.
Trump came out swinging against BuzzFeed and CNN, which alluded to the report in its own reporting Tuesday, and tackled an array of other questions on Russia and his domestic policy at the conference.
Here’s what PEOTUS had to say:
Russia Hacking: “As far as hacking I think it was Russia.”
Today marked the first time the president-elect acknowledged that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee’s emails, a conclusion that the intelligence community and President Obama announced weeks ago. But he also said that some good things came from the hacking when Hillary Clinton’s emails were released to the public and that there are many other hackers in addition to Russia.
“I think we also get hacked by other countries and people. When we lost 22 million names and everything else recently, they didn’t make a big deal of that, that was extraordinary. That was probably China.”
Trump said his message to Putin is that “he shouldn’t be doing it.”
Russia Sanctions: “If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability.”
Trump didn’t say whether he would lift sanctions on Russia, but said he hoped to get along with the country and that they could help us defeat ISIS.
“I don’t know if I’ll get along with Putin. I hope I do but there’s a chance I won’t, but if I don’t, does anyone believe Hillary Clinton would be tougher on Putin than me? Give me a break.”
The BuzzFeed Report: Outrageous, highly irresponsible, published by a left-wing blog openly hostile to the president-elect’s campaign, highly salacious, witch hunt, shameful, disgraceful, phony stuff, crap, demeaning, false, unsubstantiated, inaccurate, nonsense, fake news, a tremendous blot, a disgrace.
The words and phrases above were used by Trump, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer, and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence in response to the report.
Trump also called Buzzfeed News “a failing pile of garbage.”
The president-elect and his team denied the allegations in the report, with Trump pointing out that the team member who was alleged to have been in Prague in September has never been to Prague. They also strongly criticized the website for publishing it, as well as CNN for alluding to it.
Still, when asked whether any of his team members were in communication with Russia during the campaign, he did not answer.
Business Ties: “As you know I have a no-conflict situation because I’m president.”
The hourlong press conference featured a lengthy presentation by an attorney Trump hired to help ensure he was “isolated” from his business holdings. Sheri Dillon said that the “business empire built by Donald Trump over the years is massive” and compared it to Nelson Rockefeller’s fortune when he became vice president, though “at the time no one was concerned,” she said.
She outlined how Trump’s sons would take over the business, and said there would no foreign deals, ethics review for domestic deals, and no communication about deals to Trump.
Trump noted that he was doing all of this voluntarily, as there are no laws against conflicts of interest for the president. He also said this past weekend he was offered a $2 billion deal in Dubai, which he turned down to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Trump also said he would still not release his tax returns when asked by a reporter.
Spying: “There are cameras in the strangest places.”
When apparently talking about the possibility that he had been filmed in Russia, Trump said that he often warns everyone he knows when they travel abroad that there are likely going to be very small cameras hidden everywhere.
“I’m not referring to Russia but would include them … Cameras in the strangest place, cameras so small with modern technology, you won’t know, and I say you better be careful or you’ll be watching yourself on nightly television. I tell this to people all the time."
Mexico Wall: “It’s not a fence, it’s a wall. We’re going to build a wall.”
Trump said that Mexico would, in some way, shape, or form, pay for the wall, whether through direct payments or taxes that Trump will levy against Mexico. He has put Pence in charge of beginning the wall-building process as soon as he takes office.
Supreme Court: “Within two weeks of the 20th.”
The president-elect said that he has a list of 20 potential Supreme Court nominees, many of whom he has interviewed, many of whom were suggested to him by the Federalist Society and former Congressman Jim DeMint. He said he would make a decision on who to nominate likely within two weeks of his inauguration. On the first day after inauguration, he said “we’ll do pretty good signings… signings on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and the next week, you’ll all be invited.”
Healthcare Plan: “It will be far less expensive and far better.”
After calling Obamacare a “complete and total disaster” Trump promised that shortly after his secretary was confirmed — though he didn’t specify which secretary — they would present a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, both of which would be done either on the same day, same week, or same hour.
Bringing Jobs Back: “I said I’d be the greatest jobs producer God ever created and I mean that.”
Trump said he would impose a tax on goods made abroad in places like Mexico to try and dissuade companies from moving plants abroad. He noted that Fiat Chrysler announced a major domestic factory and Ford said they would move a factory to Michigan, and he hoped General Motors would do the same. He also wanted to focus on getting better prices for drugs from pharmaceutical companies, he said.
Trump said the swing states that helped elect him would see “a lot of jobs and security.”
Intelligence Community: “That’s something Nazi Germany would have done.”
Trump strongly criticized the intelligence community for allegedly leaking the report to BuzzFeed, but he also called the agencies “very, very important” and said he would order them to produce a report on the election hacking within 90 days of his inauguration.
“I think it was disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. It’s a disgrace. That’s something Nazi Germany would have done and did do.”
He said that if the agencies did in fact leak that information, it would be a “tremendous blot on their record.”