This morning, President-elect Donald Trump held his first press conference since winning the 2016 election. It was his first one, actually, in nearly six months.
The briefing follows unverified allegations by Buzzfeed that the Russian government “has been cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for at least five years,” and that Trump hired Russian prostitutes to indulge sexual favors on a trip to Moscow.
— Billy Baldwin (@BillyBaldwin) January 11, 2017
You know, Trump never could pass up a golden opportunity.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 11, 2017
Ironically, during Trump’s last press conference, on July 27, he “jokingly” urged Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.
At this morning’s event, at Trump Plaza on Fifth Avenue, the President-elect took direct aim at the media and praised outlets that did not report on the allegations. “I have great respect for freedom of the press and all that.”
As time wore on, though, his temper flared: Trump called Buzzfeed “a failing pile of garbage,” and insisted releasing the documents was “something Nazi Germany would have done and did do.” He warned that the site “[is] going to suffer the consequences.”
Trump just threatened CNN & Buzzfeed. For printing negative coverage of him. This is unreal. #TrumpPressConference
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) January 11, 2017
What is it exactly that Trump thinks happened in Nazi Germany? https://t.co/MZpyyLL5tT
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) January 11, 2017
When a reporter from CNN, one of the only TV outlets to cover the BuzzFeed story, tried to ask a question, Trump said, “your organization is terrible,” and talked over him, repeatedly saying, “Don’t be rude.” When the reporter, Jim Acosta, continued trying to ask a question, Trump pointed at him and shouted, “No, I’m not going to give you a question! You are fake news.”
Yesterday morning, before the prostitution story broke, Trump tweeted that CNN reports claiming he planned to work on The Apprentice during his presidency were also “fake news.”
Reports by @CNN that I will be working on The Apprentice during my Presidency, even part time, are ridiculous & untrue – FAKE NEWS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2016
Vice-president elect Mike Pence also disparaged “media bias” and referred to the Buzzfeed story as “fake news” repeatedly in his introduction of Trump.
In response to questions about his relationship with Russia during the press conference, Trump denied all claims from the BuzzFeed documents, stating, “It’s all fake news. Its phony stuff. It didn’t happen. It was gotten by opponents of ours. It was a group of opponents that got together. Sick people and they got together and put that crap together.” Trump even obliquely referenced the golden showers allegations, stating, “I’m also very much of a germaphobe, by the way—believe me.”
Twitter users have also pointed out that Trump helped to spread unverified allegations stories about Obama (including false claims about his birth certificate).
— The Greek Analyst (@GreekAnalyst) January 11, 2017
During the press conference, Trump came close to conceding that Russia was behind the hacking that occurred during the election, saying “I think it was Russia,” but before adding, “but we also get hacked by many other countries and many other people… we have much hacking going on.”
Asked what he would say to Putin about the hack, Trump responded, “He shouldn’t have done it. I don’t believe he will be doing it more.”
One reporter raised the question of Trump’s tax returns, which still have not been made public. He dismissed the issue, claiming “the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters, okay?” (“I won, when I became president,” he added. “I don’t think [the American people] care at all.”)
American citizens care far more about your tax returns than we ever did about Obama's birth certificate. #TrumpPressConference
— Nick Jack Pappas (@Pappiness) January 11, 2017
The President-elect then introduced attorney Sheri Dillon to explain how he will avoid conflicts of interest while in office—something Dillon repeatedly reminded the press was totally voluntary and not required by law.
That plan includes refraining from entering into any new deals with foreign partners and turning his company over to his sons for the duration of his presidency. According to the New York Times, these promises still “fell short of the recommendations of ethics experts [to sever] him entirely from the enterprise.”
He's not divesting. Trump is not divesting. Lawyer just said it. This is the news.#TrumpPressConference
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) January 11, 2017
Trump also promised he still intends to make Mexico pay for “the wall,” and to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act as soon as possible. But he declined to offer any details on how he expects to execute those goals.