Watch President-elect Donald Trump's press conference.
In President-elect Donald Trump's first press conference in months, discussion of policy and business dealings were overshadowed by questions about his ties to Russia, particularly regarding recent reports that Russia had compromising information on him, and a heated exchange with a CNN reporter over those allegations.
A significant portion of the conference was devoted to attorney Sherri Dillon outlining his plans for his business empire. He will not sell his assets in the company or form a blind trust, but his children will take control of the company. Trump also said that the Affordable Care Act would be repealed and replaced "almost simultaneously," breaking with the stance of some congressional Republicans who have said replacing the health care law may take some time. He also said he would nominate a new Supreme Court justice within weeks of his inauguration.
The conference began with an indignant statement from incoming press secretary Sean Spicer addressing the memos published by BuzzFeed alleging ties between Trump and Russia. Trump made light of the allegations' most unsavory details, saying, "I'm a total germophobe." However, later, he criticized BuzzFeed for publishing the memos, calling them a "failing pile of garbage." At one point, CNN's Jim Acosta demanded a question, which Trump dismissed, calling the network "fake news."
A play-by-play account of the conference is below.
UPDATE 12:26 p.m. Trump appeared on stage with a stack of manila folders. He said they were full of documents for businesses he ran under the Trump business umbrella as he surrendered control of them to his children.
When asked if he had any contact with Russia during the campaign, Trump deflected and said, "Russia will respect our country more."
He mocked the Clinton-era policy of the "reset button" and insisted China, Mexico and Japan would all "respect us far more" than they did under past administrations.
UPDATE 12:11 p.m. EST:
Trump returned to discussing cybersecurity, saying that hackers tried to break into Republican servers but were unable to do so.
When asked why he criticized U.S. intelligence agencies, he responded by disapproving of leaks of intelligence documents to the media.
Trump also called CNN "fake news."
UPDATE 12:06 p.m. EST:
Trump referenced his tweet asking, "Are we living in Nazi Germany?"
He said the leak of the BuzzFeed memos was similar to Nazi Germany.
He also called BuzzFeed a "failing pile of garbage."
UPDATE 12:05 p.m. EST:
Trump said he would appoint a new Supreme Court justice about "two weeks" after inauguration.
UPDATE 12:03 p.m. EST: Trump was asked about his plans for the wall.
He also reiterated that the border wall with Mexico would be built, even if it had to be delayed for negotiations.
He also praised the government and people of Mexico, but said they had "taken advantage of the United States" due to the U.S.'s political mistakes.
"Mexico, in some form, and there are many forms, will reimburse us for the wall," Trump said. "It will happen."
Trump was asked about his plans to keep businesses from outsourcing labor to other countries.
He insisted there would be "millions more workers" in the U.S. if past politicians had followed his philosophy on labor laws.
Trump was asked about the Affordable Care Act and whether or not he had a replacement plan. He said it would be repealed and replaced "almost simultaneously," contrary to congressional Republicans who have suggested the law would be repealed immediately but replaced some time later.
UPDATE 11:52 a.m. EST: Trump returned to the stage at 11:53 a.m. after Sherri Dillon's speech, facing a question about the confirmation hearings for his Cabinet picks.
He said attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions was "brilliant" and secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson was "incredible." Trump said he wanted the "best people" because "we don't make good deals," referring to the United States.
Trump lawyer Sherri Dillon then spoke about his business plans.
She elaborated plans for the business, control of which would be transferred to Trump's children. However, Trump will not sell his business assets.
All deals that were pending with the Trump Organization were "terminated," Dillon said. She insisted no "foreign deals" would be done by the organization for the duration of Trump's presidency.
Dillon said selling the Trump Organization would not eliminate conflicts of interest, but instead diminish the brand's value.
"President-elect Trump should not have to destroy the company he built," Dillon said.
She insisted that a "blind trust" was impossible.
"President-elect Trump cannot forget he owns Trump Tower," she said.
Dillon also insisted paying for a hotel room was "not a gift."
A reporter brought up the fact that Trump has not released his tax returns.
Trump insisted the public did not care about the tax returns and only the media was interested.
Trump refuted unsavory details from the unverified memos, saying "I'm a total germophobe."
He also said he had no loans and no deals with Russia.
"We could make deals with Russia very easily," Trump said. "I just don't want to."
He said he was offered $2 billion to do a real estate deal in Dubai, but denied it to avoid conflict
WATCH | Here's the full clip on Trump calling himself a germophobe in context.
"If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability."
Trump was asked about his relationship with Putin.
WATCH | Trump said being liked by Putin is an "asset"
Trump said that if hackers had penetrated the Republican National Committee as they did the DNC, they would have released the information.
"Look at what was learned from that hacking," Trump said, referencing that Hillary Clinton was leaked a debate question in advance. "That's a horrible thing."
A Fox News reporter addressed the CNN report that Trump was given a memo summarizing Russian information on him, and asked if he believed that Russia carried out the hacks on the Democratic National Committee.
Trump said he read the information, but said "It's all fake news." He said the memo was acquired by "opponents of ours."
He said he believed the DNC hack was carried out by Russians, but "we also get hacked by other people."
Trump said the unverified memos were crafted by "sick people."
UPDATE 11:22 a.m. EST:
Trump then pivoted to discussing auto companies and "Big Pharma," criticizing the pharmaceutical industry.
"We must create new bidding processes for drug and pharmaceutical companies," he said.
He later began to criticize the state of medical care for veterans.
Donald Trump took the stage criticizing media organizations for publication of the Russian memos, but praised those who did not publish them.
"There were some news organizations ... that were so professional," Trump said.
UPDATE 11:20 a.m. EST: Vice President-elect Mike Pence echoed Spicer's sentiments, attributing BuzzFeed's decision to publish the memos evidence of "media bias."
"Today, we'll get back to real news," Pence said.
UPDATE 11:18 a.m. EST: Incoming press secretary Sean Spicer called BuzzFeed news "irresponsible" for publishing unverified memos alleging deep ties between Trump and Russia, calling the publication of the memos a "sad and outrageous attempt to get clicks."
Donald Trump is set to give his first press conference in months Wednesday morning.
The conference, originally scheduled for mid-December, was originally planned to address Trump's divesting from his business interest. He has also said he would talk about the Affordable Care Act, hearings on his Cabinet picks and his appointment of his son-in-law Jared Kushner as a White House advisor.
All will likely be overshadowed by allegations that Russia may have compromising information about him.
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