President-elect Donald Trump just held his first press conference in six months. During the hourlong affair, Trump and the press went head-to-head sparring on everything from his business dealings to Russia's interference in the election to what will happen with Obamacare. The press conference was at points contentious, as some journalists pushed back against Trump's deflecting and the president-elect condemned the recent reporting of outlets such as BuzzFeed and CNN on Trump's alleged deep ties to Russia. If you didn't have the time (or energy) to focus on the presser, or if you're just interested in a quick primer, don't worry. Ahead, we rounded up the five main things you should know about the press conference.
He won't drop his business ties.Since Trump was elected, a lot of questions have arisen about the potential conflicts of interest he could face once he assumes office. During the press conference, Trump announced that his oldest sons Don Jr. and Eric will continue at the head of the Trump Organization. As it was reported earlier this week, Trump confirmed his daughter Ivanka is stepping down from all her roles because her husband Jared Kushner will serve as a White House senior adviser. However, Trump won't sell his business nor place his assets in a blind trust, like it was recommended he should do. Instead, an ethics adviser will be appointed and the company will not enter into any new foreign deals. His businesses and assets will also be put into a trust while he's in office. Trump's lawyer also emphasized that the president-elect won't be involved in his businesses and will have "limited information rights" regarding the company. Some legal experts were not impressed by his approach, however. "Tragically, the Trump plan to deal with his business conflicts announced today falls short in every respect,” Norm Eisen, a former top White House ethics lawyer for President Obama, told Politico. "Mr. Trump’s ill-advised course will precipitate scandal and corruption."
He won't release his tax returns.Trump is the only presidential candidate and president-elect in recent history who has refused to release his tax returns. Even though presidents are not required by law to release their tax information, it has been a tradition of financial transparency for decades. During the press conference, Trump emphatically said he won't release his tax returns because they're "under audit" — even though the IRS has said that wouldn't prevent it from sharing this information. After some pushback from a journalist, Trump said that the average American doesn't care about this issue. "The only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters," he said, adding, "I won. I became president. I mean, I don’t think they care at all." However, 60% of Americans think Trump should release his returns, according to a Pew Research Center poll published this month. This notion that many Americans do, in fact, care about Trump's tax information and the implications his financial dealings could have while he's in power was supported by a tweet Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden posted earlier today.
He claimed the intelligence report on his ties with Russia is "fake news."Yesterday, multiple outlets reported on an unverified intelligence document that claimed Russian operatives have "compromising" information about the president-elect — and that the information had been presented to him and President Obama. During Trump's press conference, he angrily denounced the claims and blamed intelligence agencies for the leak. "I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out there," Trump said. He also called the dossier "fake news" and "phony stuff," blaming BuzzFeed and CNN directly for their roles in reporting the story. However, he did recognize that it was possible Russian hackers had a hand in the election (but "it could have been others also"), even though over the last couple of weeks he had undermined the veracity of the information provided by intelligence agencies.
Taxpayers will pay for the "wall" — but Mexico will reimburse the U.S.His supporters may have chanted that Mexico would be responsible for building the border wall, but today Trump reiterated that the construction will be funded at first using taxpayers' money. "I could wait about a year-and-a-half until we finish our negotiations with Mexico, which we'll start immediately after we get to office, but I don't want to wait," he said. Even though the president-elect emphasized the Mexican government would reimburse the U.S., it's unclear how that would happen. During the press conference, Trump said it could be done via a "tax or a payment." Either way, the bottom line is it won't come cheap.
Obamacare could be repealed and replaced "essentially simultaneously."Since Congress reconvened earlier this month, efforts to start repealing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, have gone ahead full-steam. House Speaker Paul Ryan and members of the GOP have said they expected to repeal the program this winter, but that a replacement legislation could take a while. But during the presser, Trump insisted that Obamacare would be repealed and replaced at the same time. "It will be repeal and replace," he said. "It will be essentially simultaneously. It will be various segments, you understand, but will most likely be on the same day or the same week, but probably the same day. Could be the same hour." However, Trump did not provide details of what type of legislation would substitute Obamacare or how it would be implemented. We're patiently waiting for details.