In his first press conference in nearly six months, Donald Trump has said he thinks Russia was behind US election hacking. The US president-elect also said he handed over “complete” control of his business to his sons.
Responding to questions about several intelligence scandals involving Russia, President-elect Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he believes it is advantageous for the United States if Russian President Vladimir Putin likes him.
“If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability, because we have a horrible relationship with Russia,” Trump said at his first press conference in nearly six months.He also admitted that he believes Russia was behind the election hacking, but said that other countries have hacked the US as well.
Trump also called it “disgraceful” that US intelligence agencies allowed an unverified report – claiming that Russia gathered information on Trump to blackmail him – to be published. He also alleged that intelligence agencies themselves leaked the unverified dossier on Russia, and likened the experience to “Nazi Germany” – echoing one of his earlier Tweets.
‘Complete’ business control to sons
During the press conference at Trump Tower in New York City, Trump announced that he “turned over complete control” of his company to his two adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.
Trump will put his business assets in a trust and the company will abstain from making foreign deals while Trump is in office, said Sheri Dillon, a lawyer who worked with the Trump Organization on the plan.
The company will, however continue to make deals in the United States – contradicting a Tweet from the president-elect last month in which he said “no new deals” would happen while he was in the White House.
Previously, government ethics experts urged Trump to sell his assets and put the cash in a blind trust overseen by an independent manager – as previous presidents have done.
The plan presented on Wednesday appeared to fall short of experts’ reccomendations, but Dillon said Trump “should not be expected to destroy the company he built.” She also said Trump plans to donate money spent by foreign governments at his hotels to the US Treasury.
Trump maintains ‘no conflict of interest’
While describing how he would minimize conflicts of interest while in office, the president-elect repeated his claim that he is not required to take the measures to distance himself from his business.
“I could actually run my business and run government at the same time. I don’t like the way that looks, but I would be able to do that if I wanted to,” Trump said.
Indicating that he is still currently still actively involved in his business with just nine days to go until his inauguration, Trump said he rejected a reportedly $2 billion (1.9 billion-euro) deal in Dubai last weekend.”I didn’t have to turn it down because as you know I have a no-conflict situation because I’m president,” he said.
Border wall to be ‘reimbursed’ by Mexico
Trump also pledged to forge ahead with plans to build a wall on the southern border with Mexico soon after taking office.
He said that Congress will pay for the wall at first, but that Mexico will be forced to reimburse the costs later.
“Mexico in some form – and there are many different forms – will reimburse us and they will reimburse us for the cost of the wall,” said Trump, adding that it will likely come in the form of a tax.
Following the president-elect’s remarks, the Mexican peso fell 0.9 percent, trading at 22.20 pesos per US dollar. On Tuesday, the peso hit a historic low at 22 pesos per dollar.
Firestorm over unverified Trump-Russia report
An unverified report first reported by CNN and then published by BuzzFeed on Wednesday overshadowed Trump’s press conference, which was supposed to primarily address the incoming president’s plans to divest his business interests.
The 35-page document alleges that Russia gathered intelligence on Trump and contains unverified charges, including details about Trump’s sexual and financial activities in Russia, as well as claims that Trump officials met with Russians during his presidential campaign.
Earlier on Wednesday, Trump took to Twitter to deny the claims. He branded the reports “fake news” and likened them to what happened in “Nazi Germany.”
“Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets.(DW)