President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday held his first news conference since his election, during which he announced he would not be divesting himself of his businesses interests, evaded a question on whether he trusted the U.S. intelligence agencies, vowed that Mexico would eventually pay for the wall on its border and discussed other topics.
Here's a look at top moments from Trump's news conference, his first in six months.
No Blind Trust for Trump’s Businesses:
President-elect Trump will turn the management of the Trump Organization over to his adult sons and create a trust for his assets to address questions about conflicts of interest. Trump also will donate any profits from foreign governments to the Treasury Department. The trust will not be a blind trust, which many ethics experts have said would be necessary. “President-elect Trump should not be expected to destroy the company he built,” said Sheri A. Dillon, one of Trump's lawyers who worked on the plan. But some experts still have concerns. "This is using the language of ethics without addressing the actual ethics concerns," said Kathleen Clark, an ethics specialist at University of Washington law school. Trump also said he does not plan to release his tax returns despite having promised to do so in the past.
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Who Will Pay for Border Wall With Mexico:
Trump vowed negotiations with Mexico on funding of the border wall will begin immediately after he takes office. Trump's aides are considering a plan to ask Congress to ensure it has enough money to construct the wall. Trump has repeatedly promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, though in October, he said Mexico would reimburse the U.S. for the construction. "Mexico will, in some form, will reimburse us…that will happen, whether it’s a tax or it’s a payment though the latter’s less likely," Trump said Wednesday, adding that he respects Mexico's government and doesn't blame it for "taking advantage" of the nation. Mexico's new foreign relations secretary, Luis Videgaray, said Tuesday Mexico is willing to negotiate over Trump's plan to build a border wall. But Videgaray said his country won't pay for the wall, calling that "unacceptable."
Trump Excoriates 'Fake News' Outlets
Trump's contentious relationship with the press came to a head when he refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta by saying, "You are fake news." The confrontation stemmed from a CNN report Tuesday that intelligence officials presented Trump with classified documents including allegations that Russian operatives claimed to have leverage over the president-elect. Buzzfeed later published a salacious, unverified dossier purported to be the basis for the report. CNN did not include details from the dossier. A Trump spokesman excoriated both outlets at the start of Trump's news conference as "a sad and pathetic attempt to get clicks." The idea of fake news became a major issue during the election when demonstrably false news stories and conspiracies from irreputable news sources, much of it pro-Trump or anti-Hillary Clinton, spread on social media. At the news conference, Trump referred to Buzzfeed as "a failing pile of garbage" and suggested they would "suffer the consequences," but did not elaborate. CNN said in a statement that the Trump team was using Buzzfeed’s decision to deflect from CNN’s "carefully sourced reporting."
Relationship With Intelligence Agencies
Trump suggested that the controversial dossier that caused uproar Tuesday was "released by maybe the intelligence agencies," adding, "who knows, but maybe the intelligence agencies." He also said it was disgraceful that such information was allowed out, comparing it to Nazi Germany. It raises the question of whether Trump trusts the U.S. intelligence agencies, which have told Trump that Vladimir Putin was behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee during the election. Trump has praised Putin and suggested he'd bring the nations closer together. He said Wednesday that he thinks Russia was behind the hacking but also said that those attacks on the U.S. will end under his presidency, and that "If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability." Later in the news conference, he was asked directly if he trusts the national intelligence officials who have been briefing him but answered a slightly different question, saying, "Intelligence agencies are vital and very, very important." He also criticized the nation's "hacking defense" and said he wanted a report on the issue within 90 days of taking office.
Obamacare Repeal and Replacement:
Asked to share his plans for repealing and replacing Obamacare, Trump promised, "We’re going to have a health care that’s far less expensive and far better" but did not offer details about his replacement plan. Republican lawmakers agree on repealing the law but nearly seven years after its passage have failed to present a substitute for President Obama's signature health care overhaul. As to how fast the law will be replaced after it's repealed, Trump said, "It will be essentially simultaneously." But this would be virtually impossible due to complexity of the policy changes, according to The Associated Press. Trump added Wednesday that, "We are doing the Democrats a great service" by not waiting, referring to the rising costs for many consumers. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said that the House would seek to take both steps "concurrently," according to the AP.
Supreme Court Nominee:
Trump said he would probably name his choice to fill the vacancy left by the death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia within two weeks of his inauguration. "I have a list of 20, I’ve gone through em. We’ve met with numerous judges, they were outstanding in every case," Trump said. Senate Republicans blocked President Barack Obama's nomination of U.S. Appeals Judge Merrick Garland for more than nine months. Garland's nomination expired earlier this month. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week "it's hard for me to imagine" Democratic senators supporting a Supreme Court nomination submitted by Trump, and vowed, "If they don't appoint somebody good, we're going to oppose them tooth and nail."
Trump Announces Pick for Veterans Affairs:
Trump said that he'd tapped Veterans Affairs undersecretary David Shulkin to lead the department. Shulkin is "fantastic" and will do a "truly great job," he said. Shulkin, a board-certified internist who received his medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania, was nominated as undersecretary for health by President Barack Obama. He would be the first VA secretary ever confirmed who has not served in the military. The VA health care system serves 8.76 million veterans each year and is the nation's largest of its kind. Trump's website lists a 10-point plan that he says will reform the VA and counts as his vision a goal to cut down on backlogs and long drives for veterans to receive care. The choice leaves agriculture secretary as Trump's final Cabinet pick to select.