Donald Trump Wednesday gave his first news conference in more than six months – and his first as the president-elect of the United States.
It’s just nine days until his inauguration, and he touched on several topics during an opening statement before fielding questions from reporters – many of which centered on his links to Russia and possible conflicts of interest relating to his businesses. Here are key points from what he said:
Denies Russian business links, but still won’t release tax returns
Trump took to Twitter Wednesday morning to re-assert his claims he has no financial or business interests in Russia. And this is something he repeated at the conference.
When pressed by a reporter on whether he would release his tax returns to prove it, he said he wouldn’t be doing this as they are still under audit. He then added: “The only ones who care about my tax returns are reporters.”
Most Americans want Trump to release his tax returns. 60% in a Pew poll, 60% in a CBS poll, both post election.
— Emily Guskin (@EmGusk) January 11, 2017
He was also quizzed on his relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin, and told reporters that if he’s on good terms with Putin, it should be seen as “an asset, not a liability.”
He admits Russia was probably behind DNC hacking
Trump had previously cast doubt on the views from America’s intelligence community that Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails during the election campaign, which were then released online by Wikileaks.
On Wednesday, however, he said: “I think it was Russian.” Then he want on to say that hacking presents a wider security threat to the U.S. and comes from many actors, including China.
I think Trump just said "As far as hacking..I think it was Russian" – he agrees with the intelligence agencies he's also furious with
— Krishnan Guru-Murthy (@krishgm) January 11, 2017
The government will start negotiating on drug prices
One unexpected announcement: Trump intends to change the way the federal government buys prescription drugs.
He said pharmaceutical companies based in the U.S. (but who make drugs overseas, he noted) were getting away with murder, and said that as president he would establish “new bidding procedures.”
“There’s very little bidding on drugs,” he continued. “We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world and yet we don’t bid properly.”
Commentators noted this is a position you tend to find among Democrats rather than Republicans.
This is legit news and long a Democratic priority https://t.co/Bzpc12HXfk
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) January 11, 2017
Affordable Care Act repeal coming
Trump has said he wants “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act “simultaneously” with the confirmation of Rep. Tom Price as his health and human services secretary.(Note: A repeal would have to come from Congress, not the president.) He did not offer any details about what that replacement might include.
He told reporters that “it was a thought from a political standpoint” that his administration could “sit back” and watch the Affordable Care Act system implode in 2017 before implementing a replacement – blaming the Democrats for the mess – but felt it wouldn’t be fair on the American people.
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Health and Human Services secretary.
Trump’s plan for his businesses
A pile of manila envelopes were placed on the table at the news conference, which Trump said included all the documents he’d signed handing over control of his business interests to his sons.
His lawyer Sherri Dillon told reporters a trust will be created by Jan. 20 that will hold cash, an index investment and business assets such as golf clubs, resorts, hotels, royalties and real estate.
They will be managed by Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and a third Trump executive. They will not talk to Trump about the business.
“President-elect Trump will resign from all offices he holds,” Dillon said, and any profits that come from foreign interests will be paid into the Treasury.
He will not, however, divest his ownership in his company.
Building the Mexico wall
“We are going to start building,” Trump said, adding that he doesn’t “want to wait a year and a half to make a deal with Mexico.”
It means Americans will stump up the cash for it initially, with Trump saying: “Mexico will reimburse us for this, whether it’s a tax or a payment.”