Live thread: The First Trumpresser of 2017; Update: VA Secretary pick announced; Update: ObamaCare repeal and replace “essentially simultaneously”

posted at 10:41 am on January 11, 2017 by Ed Morrissey

Update: Trump finishes up a contentious and at times amusing first press conference since his election. Much of the presser focused on the Russian-intel report that has been “largely discredited,” as NBC’s Lester Holt said immediately after the presser concluded.

Update: Derides Hillary Clinton’s “reset button,” says that Russia will learn to respect us more over the next four years.

Update: Says intel agencies “very important,” but that the US has dropped to last among 17 nations in cyber defense. Promises a major report within 90 days on steps to improve our defenses.

Update: Refuses to take a question from CNN.

Update: Buzzfeed is a “failing pile of garbage,” and rips CNN for its report as well.

Update: On Supreme Court, Trump says he will make a decision for Scalia’s replacement within two weeks of the inauguration.

Update: Mexico will “reimburse us for the wall,” and says that may take many different forms. Says he does not blame Mexico; blames US policymakers.

Update: Trump promises a “major border tax” for relocating outside the US, and says leaders should have imposed it “years ago.”

Update: “ObamaCare is a complete and total disaster … it’s imploding.” Trump said that he considered waiting on ObamaCare until it collapsed under its own weight, but that wouldn’t be fair to the people it impacts. Says repeal and replace will be “essentially simultaneously” on either the same week, day, or even hour. “We’re doing them [Democrats] a tremendous service” with repeal.

Update: Trump takes the lectern again, says that the business success of his Cabinet appointments are an asset rather than a problem. Hails Jeff Sessions as “brilliant.”

Update: Dillon argues that “emoluments” does not include “fair value trade” business transactions. She’s probably right, but that’s a political rather than legal issue. Nevertheless, the Trump organization will donate all profits from foreign-government transactions (such as hotel stays) to the US Treasury.

Update: Dillon offers a pretty good explanation of why the alternatives to the plan she’s putting forward. These are the complications that comes with electing an outsider from the business world, which is a unique moment in American history.

Update: All of his branded properties will go into a trust over the next week. Dillon says that the organization killed ongoing deals, costing the Trumps “millions of dollars.” It will not conduct any international deals during the presidency, and new domestic deals will need written approval from ethics oversight.

Update: Ivanka will have no role in the Trump empire, presumably due to her husband’s role in the incoming administration.

Update: The nearly ubiquitous Fred Fielding has joined the Trump team to ensure that conflicts of interest do not occur.

Update: Trump gives the stage to Sheri Dillon, his tax attorney, who notes that people didn’t seem very concerned with Nelson Rockefeller’s business dealings when he was vice-president. It looks like Trump might be done taking questions.

Update: “I could run my businesses and be president,” Trump says, “but I don’t like the way it looks.” Refuses to release his tax returns, says the American people don’t care about it. When the reporter protests, he reminds her that he got elected without him releasing the returns.

Update: Lighthearted moment — “I’m also very much of a germaphobe. Believe me.”

Update: The Associated Press reports that Trump will put his business assets in a trust, but the company will continue to operate under the management of his sons. He will resign all his positions in his companies effective immediately.

Update: Trump says that a friendly relationship with Russia and Putin could be an asset, and scoffs at the notion that Hillary would be tougher on Putin.

Update: Trump says he respects Russia’s statement that the intel memo was false, but turns the question around by noting the accuracy of the information released.

Update: First question is about Putin and the briefing. Trump cites the classified nature of the briefing, says that the released memo was “fake news” from “sick people who put that crap together.” Says that he thinks Russia was behind the DNC hacks, but brings up the lack of urgency over the OPM hack. Promises to apply top expertise for defense.

Update: Here’s some actual news — Trump has appointed David Shulkin as VA Secretary. “We think this selection will — with time — straighten out” the VA.

Update: “There’s a new spirit that many people tell me they’ve never seen before … I will be the greatest jobs producer that God ever created, and I mean that …” That’s a big mark to meet. Also, it’s pretty self-congratulatory for someone who hasn’t been in office for a day yet.

Update: Allahpundit’s post is up now:

Update: Trump says that “big news” will be coming about new manufacturing in the Midwest and Rust Belt, and covers the progress he’s claiming for decisions already made by Ford, among others. He says that pharmaceuticals will be next. “Pharma has a lot of lobbyists, a lot of power.”

Update: Trump starts off by thanking “a lot of the news agencies” in attendance for not publishing the disinformation. “It should never have been written … and it should never have been released.” He questions whether the intelligence agencies are leaking the information.

Update: Pence took the podium after Spicer got done reaming out CNN and Buzzfeed, and offered a more upbeat statement about the potential for the next four years. He did take the opportunity to slam the media for the “irresponsible decision” to run these stories without substantiation. “The American people are sick and tired of it. But today, we’ll get back to real news.”

Update: Sean Spicer kicked it off with Mike Pence standing behind him, and called Buzzfeed’s report “outrageous … flat-out false … a sad and pathetic attempt to get clicks.”

Update: It’s now 11:13, and all the aides are in the room, including Kellyanne Conway and Jared Kushner, so we should be starting any time.

Update: NBC is now reporting that the Buzzfeed memo was carried by intel as an example of “disinformation.” Allahpundit’s next post will have more, so stay tuned.

Update, 11:06 ET: At least we have some level of continuity between administrations — this presser’s starting late, too.

Original post follows ….

Remember when this press conference was to tackle the thorny issues of Donald Trump’s potential business conflicts? Good times, good times. Thanks to a flurry of reporting over the past twenty-four hours — some of it looking pretty poor already — the president-elect’s first presser of 2017 promises a much more salacious tone. Trump got out to a head start on the questions raised by reports from CNN and Buzzfeed on Russian ties and influence, on his usual platform:

Rhetorical questions aside, Trump will have to answer some pointed actual questions today, and the most pointed will be about the intelligence briefing he received. As Jake Tapper pointed out on Twitter, the Buzzfeed memo and the intel briefing are two different things that have been conflated to some degree. He also updated the status of the Michael Cohen claim by suggesting that the memo writer might have had the wrong Michael Cohen:

As I noted earlier, Trump’s probably been boosted by Buzzfeed’s decision to run with the highly problematic memo, but it’s also true that the intel briefing was also based on unverified reports. The briefing was classified, so don’t expect Trump to say much about it except to disagree with it and slam its leak to the press. In nine days, he can declassify any or all of it, but for now he has to abide by the classification and keep from disclosing anything.

It won’t be all Russian hookers and Prague têtes-aux-têtes today, though. Trump should expect some tough questions on the ObamaCare repeal, his Cabinet appointees, and of course those business conflicts of interests that were the original reason for this presser. We’ll keep you updated here in this live blog, with updates in reverse chronological order at the top.


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