At his first proper press conference as President-elect, Trump and team provided answers for a number of long-burning questions, kind of. Trump held his last full press conference on July 27 and months latercanceled plans for a December 15 press eventat whichhe was expected to assuage concernsabout hismyriad conflicts of interest.
In an unconventional opening at Wednesdays press event, incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attacked the press, rejecting the unverified 35 -page memoranda BuzzFeed chose to make available to the public as candidly outrageous( hard to argue) and highly irresponsible( not his call to induce ).
Spicer conflated CNN and BuzzFeeds reporting around Russian blackmail on Trump, although CNNs narrative was notable for its byline by venerable Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein and BuzzFeed was the first to publish the source documents, with a disclaimer that while they are indeed unverified, they hold enough potential credibility for Arizona Senator John McCain to have delivered a copy to FBI James Comey in December. Spicer claimed that the report is not an intelligence report, plain and simple, although his administration itself has given little credence to reports from the intelligence community and the document did indeed circulate among intelligence officials, making it difficult to dismiss outright.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence then took his turn castigating the captive press, assembled there for the rare opportunity to pose questions to the president-elect, who has shown a unique anxiety of or disdain for such press events and their off-the-cuff topic and answer format. In a bizarre turn, Trump claimed that his campaign was famed for its frequent press conferences: Its very familiar province, news conferences, because we used to give them on an almost daily basis. I think we probably perhaps won the nomination because of news conferences and its good to be with you. In fact, the campaign held press events highly infrequently, a trend that proves signs of continuing.
Much of the press event , not unlike most press events, was 100 percent spin, though a few interesting the progress and one profoundly consequential one did emerge.
Trump unsurprisingly took the opportunity to cast himself as a victim of the BuzzFeed memoes unverified accusations, one of his favorite tactics to hire against perceived political adversaries. In yet another adversarial moment with the U.S. intelligence community, Trump cast the report and memoranda as a tremendous smudge on the record of intelligence agencies. He went on to praise news organizations that withheld the report as so professional so incredibly professional that he had just gone up a notch as to what I think of you a clear message of potential reward for any outlets interested in playing softball with the Trump administration moving forward.
Back to jobs
Trump then shifted into his preferred back-patting posture, citing both isolated and abstract phases about job creation in the automotive, pharmaceutical and defense industries. He also paused to give a shout-out to the tech executives whod recently induced the pilgrimage to Trump Tower, including Alibabas Jack Ma and Teslas Elon Musk( he did not mention Musk by name ). Ma joins SoftBanks Masayoshi Son in hurling some buzzy unearned job creation PR Trumps way in exchange for a business edge up Trumps economy.
And I will say, if the election didnt turn out the style it turned out, they would not be here. They would not be in my office. They would not be in anybody elses office, Trump claimed in an obvious reaching. Theyd be house and doing things in other countries. So, theres a great spirit going on right now. A spirit that many people have told me theyve ever seen before, ever.
Trump blamesRussian hacking, kind of
As the event moved from posturing into the Q& A, Trump deflected Tuesdays reports of Russian kompromat as fake news by sick people who shouldnt have even entered newspaper. Which newspaper was not specified, but well assume he entails something better akin to been published. He jumped from there to one of the biggest moments of the press conference, in which Trump appears to join the intelligence community at last 😛 TAGEND
As far as hacking, I think it was Russia. But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people. And I I can say that you know when when we lost 22 million names and everything else that was hacked recently, they didnt make a big deal out of that. That was something that was extraordinary. That was probably China.
If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks? Thats called an asset , not a liability .
Trump appears to have shifted promptly from the DNC and Podesta hacks to 2015 s Office of Personnel Management( OPM) violate, pointing a thumb at a more personally comfy enemy. He then lobbed assaults at the DNC for doing a poor chore protect children digital assets compared to the RNC, although proof been shown that the RNC indeed had some older servers penetrated, although the material was not leaked. In a third-person flourish moments later, Trump asserted that If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks? Thats called an asset , not a liability.
As reporters pressed further about the kompromat reports, Trump claimed to be well versed in the art of avoiding foreign surveillance 😛 TAGEND
And I always tell them anywhere, but I always tell them if Im leaving this country, Be very careful, because in your hotel rooms and no matter where you go, youre gonna probably have cameras. Im not referring just to Russia, but I would certainly set them in that category.
And number one, I hope youre gonna be good anyway. But in those rooms, you have cameras in the strangest places. Cameras that are so small with modern technology, you cant find them and you wont know. You better be careful, or youll be watching yourself on nightly television.
Trump will not divest
The real meat of the press conference is dealing with Trumps business conflicts of interest a topic that the Trump team first said theyd address in mid-December. Trump batted away a few questions about his tax returns with the usual line about auditing before reassuring the press that his combined business dealings are much bigger, much more powerful than they ever thought, spread across many, many countries, which seems to only exacerbate ethics fears around the Trump organization.
Trump then called in lawyer Sheri Dillon to explain how his family would and would not untangle his finances from the highest office in the nation. According to Dillon, Trump is taking extraordinary steps with his finances , none of which will involve fiscal divestment or a blind trust, two of the most transparent, robust options. Dillon confirmed that Trump will hand over his business to his two sons, Donald Jr. and Eric. As many have noted, ina jarring break with tradition, Eric and Donald Jr. both attend meetings with their parent, and were seated at the head of the table when the President-elect beckoned tech executives to Trump Tower last month.
He will only know of a deal if he reads it in the paper or insures it on TV .
In a comment that sets up a strange future in which Trump can blame the press itself for covering the Trump Organizations conflicts of interest, Dillon stated that, The president-elect will have no role in deciding whether the Trump Organization engages in any new deal and he will only know of a deal if he reads it in the paper or insures it on TV. This does not seem possible, of course, unless he opts to stop speaking to the children operating his business altogether.
The Trump organization will induce no new foreign deals during his presidency, though, as Trump reminded us earlier during the same event, “hes having” deals in many, many foreign countries already and those will remain. Domestic deals, on the other hand, are fair game for some reason, and Trumps sons can contract with who they please, subject to unspecified ethics reviews.
Beyond not divesting his assets and creating a not-at-all blind trust, Dillon announced that the Trump organization would not remove itself from the sticky issue of foreign leaders paying to stay at Trump hotels, opting instead to funnel foreign pays to those hotels immediately to the United States Treasury.
So, President-elect Trump has decided, and we are announcing today, that he is going to voluntarily donate all gains from foreign government pays made to his hotel to the United States Treasury. This style, it is the American people who will profit.
Trumps legal team seems confident that the American people will be appeased by this sleight of hand and that it will fulfill the much-discussed emoluments clause of the U.S. constitution which states 😛 TAGEND
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
How Trumps strange treasury proposal fits into those legal guidelines remains as does so much else about the Trump administration to be seen.