US & Canada

Trump news conference: 10 things we learned

Ivanka, Eric, Donald Trump and Mike Pence Image copyright Getty Images

Donald Trump has held his first news conference in five months, with nine days to go before he takes the oath and assumes power at the White House.

While his fury at the allegations concerning his ties to Russia made the headlines, there was plenty more covered.

So what did we learn?


BUSINESS HANDOVER

His sons, Donald and Eric, will run the Trump Organization, Mr Trump said in a long-awaited announcement concerning his business interests.

His lawyer Sheri Dillon also said:

  • No input from Trump in decisions
  • Ethics adviser appointed to management team
  • All pending deals have been terminated - 30 plus
  • No new foreign deals will be made
  • US deals will be vetted

She also turned to the constitution's "emoluments clause" which bans government officials from taking money from foreign governments. People have wondered if foreign officials staying at Trump hotels would mean he was in breach. She said no.

But she said he would donate foreign payments to the Treasury anyway.

However, the head of the Office of Government Ethics launched a scathing attack on the overall Trump plan, saying it does not go far enough to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Other ethics experts seem to agree.

The BBC's Anthony Zurcher: Mr Trump has spent his entire life building his business empire, and he seems reluctant to let it go entirely, ethical concerns notwithstanding. While he says he's stepping away from the business, his decision not to relinquish ownership and his only transfer management to his children will likely not satisfy many of his critics.

Trump hands over business empire to sons


LEAKY SPIES

The president-elect suggested the US intelligence agencies are to blame for the unsubstantiated allegations that he paid for Russian prostitutes and fostered close relations between his campaign team and the Kremlin.

"I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out there... That's something that Nazi Germany would have done."

The top US spy, James Clapper, later hit back, saying the leak was not from the US intelligence community.

AZ: Wednesday was only the latest broadside Mr Trump has fired against a US intelligence community that he believes is trying to undermine the legitimacy of the presidency. His targets feel threatened as well, so this is far from the final exchange.

Angry Trump blasts 'fake news disgrace'


RUSSIA HACKING

He went further than he has before in identifying Russia as the culprit behind hacks of Democratic Party emails, but still carried a caveat.

"As far as hacking, I think it's Russia. But we also get hacked by other countries and other people."

AZ: While Mr Trump was finally willing to acknowledge Russian involvement in 2016 election hacking, he still couched criticism in terms of a larger problem that involves other nations, like China. Mr Trump clearly feels much more comfortable criticising China than he does Vladimir Putin and Russia.


OBAMACARE REPEAL

Mr Trump said he plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as soon as his health secretary pick is confirmed.

That could be the same week, the same day or even the same hour, he said.

But it's not clear whether the Republican party will be able to rally around a new plan.

AZ: While Mr Trump has set a tight timeline for repeal and replacement of Obamacare, it will be a heavy lift for a Congress that still is uncertain on what it should do - or the political fallout it could suffer for doing it.

Can Obamacare be repealed?

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Media captionDonald Trump said the information was 'fake'

THE WALL

The man who launched his presidential campaign with the condemnation of Mexican immigrants as criminals shows no signs of wavering in his plan to build wall on the southern border.

AZ: For Mr Trump, it's not a matter of if Mexico is going to pay for the border wall (not fence, he emphasised), it's when - and he predicts it will happen in less than a year.


BORDER TAX

"There will be a major border tax on these companies that are leaving and getting away with murder. And if our politicians had what it takes, they would have done this years ago. And you'd have millions more workers right now in the United States."

AZ: Now we know a bit more about how he will try to foot the bill for the wall - through a tax, which might be easier than asking the Mexican government to cough up a cheque.


SUPREME COURT

Asked about filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court, he said he has a list of 20 and will put one of them up within his first two weeks.

"It will be a decision which I very strongly believe in. I think it's one of the reasons I got elected."

AZ: While the Supreme Court wasn't a top issue for many American voters, it was likely an important factor in keeping evangelical conservatives in Mr Trump's column. His pick will likely reward their faith.


PHARMA

"We have to get our drug industry coming back," he said.

We need to "create new bidding procedures for the drug industry, because they're getting away with murder," he added.

After the press conference, Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders expressed his full agreement.

"Pharma does get away with murder. Literally murder. People die because they can't get the prescription drugs they need."

AZ: Talking about using the power of government negotiation to reduce drug prices is a regular talking point for Democrats, but Mr Trump's interest in taking on big pharmaceutical companies probably comes as a bit of a shock to his Republican colleagues.


HE'S A GERMOPHOBE

Mr Trump cracked a joke when he said he could not have done some of the more salacious things alleged in the intelligence dossier.

"Does anyone believe that story? I'm a germophobe, by the way."

It has long been part of media folklore that he is averse to physical contact and once passed hand-sanitiser to journalists.

AZ: Back when Mr Trump was giving regular press conferences, his answers were frequently peppered with quirky non-sequiturs or comments that would never come out of the mouth of a traditional politician. It seems like President Trump will stick to that script.


ADVICE FOR VISITORS TO RUSSIA

"I was in Russia years ago, with the Miss Universe contest, which did very well - Moscow, the Moscow area did very, very well.

"And I told many people, 'Be careful, because you don't wanna see yourself on television. Cameras all over the place.'"

AZ: While Mr Trump may have a soft spot for Vladimir Putin and Russia, comments like this aren't going to get him a post-election job on the Russian tourism board.

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