Update: Things started off angry..."For all the talk lately about 'fake news,' this political witchhunt by some in the media...is frankly shameful & disgraceful.... Highly irresponsible for a left-wing blog... to drop highly salacious and flat out false information on the Internet."
- *SPICER SAYS BUZZFEED REPORT IS DANGEROUS, HAS `FALSE' INFO
- *TRUMP AIDE SPICER: REPORT A SAD, PATHETIC ATTEMPT TO GET CLICKS
- *PENCE SAYS `CONCERTED EFFORT' BY SOME IN PRESS TO DELEGITIMIZE
* * *
As we detailed earlier, in what is sure to be a fiery event, Trump is set to host his first press conference since being elected President at 11AM EST this morning. Will today's press conference be another political "rick-roll," as CNN's furious Jake Tapper described his last event at Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C., or will the anxious mainstream media finally get their shot at peppering Trump with questions about Russia, conflicts of interest and/or whatever the other "fake news" de jour is? Given that Trump outsmarted the media at pretty much every turn during the 2016 campaign cycle, we have our guess as to who will emerge victorious after today's event.
Assuming the press actually gets to ask some questions, here are a couple of topics they are sure to focus on:
1. Russia, Russia, Russia - As The Hill points out, with CNN blowing up the "Russian Hacking" narrative yet again last night, with what is looking increasingly like just another dose of "fake news," the press is sure to make Russia a focal point in today's press conference.
While he met last week with the intelligence chiefs about Russia, Trump has also urged the country to “move on” from the purported hack.
But it’s unlikely that the press will be ready to "move on" at tomorrow’s press conference, especially after CNN reported Tuesday that intelligence officials briefed Trump on an outside report saying that the Russian government has “compromising personal and financial information” about him.
It’s unclear how reliable the outside intelligence report on Trump, which also alleges contacts between his associates and the Russian government during the campaign, is. CNN reports that U.S. intelligence officials relayed the report to Trump in part so he would know the rumors that are circulating among him in foreign intelligence communities.
According to CNN, a former British intelligence official who was employed by Trump’s political opponents produced the report. The CNN adds still more attention to the allegations that Russian hackers meant to sway the election for Trump.
2. Conflicts of Interest - This press conference was originally planned to give Trump the opportunity to address how his businesses would be managed during his Presidency to avoid conflicts of interest. With Trump since backing away from calls for a blind trust, this topic is sure to draw some questions.
According to Trump, his two adult sons, Eric and Donald Jr., will manage the company with the help of other executives, and they won’t make any “new deals” during their father’s term in office. At Wednesday’s press conference, Trump could be asked how his many businesses could avoid any “new deals” for four—and potentially eight—years.
But with critics blasting Trump for apparently refusing a blind trust, since he’ll still have a vested interest in the company if his children run it, Trump will likely be pushed on those potential conflicts and many more. That includes Trump’s Washington hotel, which has raised eyebrows from ethics groups concerned about Trump’s lease from the federal government and the potential for foreign governments to influence Trump by spending money there.
He'll also likely face questions about his decision to appoint son-in-law Jared Kushner as a senior adviser despite federal anti-nepotism laws.
3. Obamacare - With Republicans going back and forth in the media in recent weeks over the timing of repealing and/or replacing Obamacare, the mainstream media will undoubtedly be concerned on when/how Obama's signature piece of legislation will be dismantled.
On Friday, he called Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has been publicly calling for a simultaneous repeal and replace of the controversial health care law. On Monday, he met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is helping to shepherd through the repeal.
When asked by The New York Times about his stance in the debate, he called for Congress to pass a replacement plan “very quickly or simultaneously” after Congress dismantles ObamaCare.
“Long to me would be weeks…it won’t be repeal and then two years later go in with another plan,” he added.
The problem is—Republicans in Congress haven’t yet coalesced around one plan, let alone one that could win the necessary bipartisan support. That makes sticking to Trump’s timeline difficult.
4. Border Wall - Last week the media seized on reports that Trump had asked Republicans in Congress to consider approving funding for the construction of a wall along the southern border, an expense Trump repeatedly said during the campaign would be covered by Mexico. With Mexico still refusing to pay for the "fucken wall," as Vicente Fox has repeatedly said, this is sure to be a hot topic.
Congress is currently discussing appropriating funds to pay for the construction initially, ostensibly with Mexico on the hook to reimburse the United States later.
Trump has long promised that Mexico would pay the many billions of dollars required to fund the wall, in the last few months clarifying that he would compel Mexico to pay America back. After reports that the U.S. government would fund the wall, Trump accused the media of dishonesty.
But Mexico has held firm, with Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray saying Tuesday that “there is no way” his country will pay for the wall, framing the issue as a “matter of dignity and national sovereignty,” according to Mexican television reports.
Will Trump be asked to respond to those comments and reassure any supporters concerned about whether he’ll deliver on the campaign promise?
5. Twitter - Finally, with the media obviously perturbed by Trump's efforts to cut them out of his communication strategy, the mainsteamers are sure to seek some clarity on his intention to utilize "traditional communication channels," like press conferences, once he moves into the White House.
With that, here is a live feed of the event: