Donald Trump suggested that "maybe the intelligence agencies" had released an unsubstantiated report which said that Russian operatives claim to have compromising information on the president-elect, slamming the allegations as "fake news."
Trump addressed reporters at Trump Tower in midtown during his first news conference since July, remarking that he had stopped giving news conferences because of "quite a bit of inaccurate news." He slammed Buzzfeed News for publishing the report, calling the website "a failing piece of garbage," and he praised outlets that declined to publish the unverifiable claims.
"It's all fake news," he said of the report. "It's phony stuff."
In a contentious back-and-forth, the president-elect pointed at reporters who attempted to ask him questions. "Your organization's terrible. Your organization's terrible. I'm not going to give you a question. You are fake news."
Trump also addressed the salacious and unsubstantiated personal information contained in the report, remarking, “I'm also very much of a germaphobe, by the way.”
He weighed in on U.S. intelligence agencies' conclusion that Russia used cyber attacks and other tactics to try to tilt the presidential election in his favor over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, shifting blame toward the DNC for being "totally open to being hacked." Trump also claimed that hackers attempted to do the same to the RNC, but were unable to.
It's a good thing if Russian President Vladimir Putin prefers Trump to Clinton, the president-elect asserted.
"If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what folks, that’s called an asset, not a liability," Trump said.
The news conference, which was initially planned to discuss his complicated business interests, did touch on the future of the Trump Organization.
While Trump remarked that he could run the business and country at the same time, he said that his sons Donald Jr. and Eric will take over "in a very professional manner" and won't discuss the business with the president-elect.
His tax attorney Sheri Dillon said that Ivanka will no longer have management authority over the business and will instead focus on her children as she and husband Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to Trump, move to Washington, D.C.
Trump decided against divesting or setting up a blind trust, Dillon said, remarking that "President Trump can't un-know he owns Trump Tower."
The news conference came just days ahead of Trump's swearing-in, slated for Jan. 20. The president-elect said that Inauguration Day will be "elegant" and "beautiful," but didn't provide many other details about the event.
He also announced his pick to lead the Veterans Affairs department: David Shulkin, the department's current undersecretary for health. The VA has come under fire in recent years after the relevation that veterans had endured long wait times to see doctors, and some may have died while awaiting care.
The president-elect also touched on his plans to create jobs in the United States, declaring, "I will be the greatest jobs producer that God ever created."
Trump, who has pledged to nix the Affordable Care Act, said it's a "complete and total disaster" that's "imploding." He said he would submit a plan to "repeal and replace ... essentially simultaneously," remarking it's "very complicated stuff."
He added that "we are doing the Democrats a great service" by repealing the health care law, better known as Obamacare.
- With Reuters