Fear, Loathing And 'Fake News': Inside The Donald Trump Press Conference
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Donald Trump came out swinging against the media on Wednesday — in particular Buzzfeed and CNN, which he called “fake news,” and from which he wouldn’t take questions — but he also said he was offered and turned down a $2B deal over the weekend by DAMAC in Dubai.
In what turned into an hour and a half news conference at Trump Tower, Trump staffers also set up a table piled high with files for a show and tell. These, Trump said, represented the documents he had signed that turned over all his business interests to a trust that would be managed by his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, along with Alan Weisselberg, his current financial officer. A compliance officer and ethics officer would also be hired to ensure he did not discuss business with his sons, his attorney, Sheri Dillon of Morgan Lewis, said.
His daughter, Ivanka, would no longer be part of the company, and instead would be in Washington, DC, taking care of her kids while her husband, Jared Kushner, will be a senior adviser in the White House.
Eric, Don Jr. and Ivanka stood throughout the conference along with Weisselberg, Reince Priebus and Jason Greenblatt, a longtime Trump staffer who will also work in DC in the new administration. Vice President-elect Mike Pence listened with them on the left side of the room after he introduced his new boss.
Kushner was on the right side, along with Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani, while numerous other Trump staffers stood by the elevators.
Dillon took the podium to explain that the company would not create a blind trust, as it would be impractical, and to sell his vast holdings would create even more conflicts and would become a “fire sale of assets."
An IPO would be too complex, and the blind trust wouldn’t make sense because “Trump can’t un-know Trump Tower,” Dillon added.
Dillon said Trump has already sold his stock portfolio.
She also explained that they would not divest the hotels — including Trump International in Washington, DC — that foreign countries have been booking to try to curry favor with Trump.
Dillon said payments for rooms and services, even from foreign officials, would not be considered “emoluments," or payments in return for favors, which are strictly forbidden under the Constitution. Instead, they are payments for services received – i.e. the hotel room. Any profits from foreign dignitaries would nevertheless be sent to the U.S. Treasury, she said.
Still unanswered — among several other key questions — is who will take over the General Services Administration, an important post for a president who is first and foremost a real estate deal-maker. After the conference, Conway declined to speak to us about any specific possible nominee, but said Trump had been interviewing for all positions.
One real estate CEO who visited with the president-elect soon after the election last year is Sandeep Mathrani of General Growth Properties (above). GGP has declined to discuss the Trump meeting or if Mathrani, a former Forest City and Vornado executive whose expertise is urban and mall retail, would be taking that post or any other in the administration.
At the presser, Trump also said he had decided to appoint David Shulkin as Secretary of Veterans Affairs; he's currently undersecretary of health at the VA. He is also a former president of the Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey and former VP of Atlantic Health System.
Before being asked a single question, Trump decried accusations detailed in “unconfirmed reports” by BuzzFeed and CNN over the weekend, of certain bodily fluids being used during sex. These reports by “intelligence officers” had been circulating through media circles all fall; no outlets were ever able to confirm them and none printed them.
But Trump insisted that being friends with Russia would be a “good thing” and not just the “reset button” that Hillary Clinton had presented to the Russians in 2009.
“Russia will have far greater respect for our country when I’m leading it,” Trump said. “But I won’t be giving a little reset button like Hillary.”
“We’re either going to get along or we’re not,” Trump added.
In eight years, Trump said at the end of the presser, if he came back to his business and his sons had not done a good job they would hear his signature phrase from "The Apprentice": “You’re fired.”