The unverified claims pushed by BuzzFeed on Tuesday dominated Donald Trump’s press conference on Wednesday with numerous reporters pouncing on what the President-elect attacked as “fake news.” NBC reporter Hallie Jackson demanded to know about the allegations of Russian blackmail: “Does Russia have any leverage over you, financial or otherwise, and if not, will you release your tax returns to prove it?”
An unidentified British-sounding reporter tried to push sketchy, salacious gossip: “Can you make clear whether during your visits to either Moscow or St. Petersburg you engaged in conduct that you now regret and that a reasonable.... observer says say that you are potentially vulnerable to Russia or its intelligence agencies?”
ABC’s Cecilia Vega interrogated:
CECILIA VEGA: Can you stand here today once and for all and say that no one connected to you or your campaign had any contact with Russia leading up to or during the presidential campaign and if you indeed do believe that Russia was behind the hacking, what is your message to Vladimir Putin right now?
CNN reporter Jim Acosta instigated a shouting match with the President-elect, whining, “You’re attacking us!” Trump zinged, “Don’t be rude. No, I’m not giving you a question. You are fake news.”
MRC President Brent Bozell slammed BuzzFeed’s story as “fake news.”
Eventually, the topic moved beyond Russia and BuzzFeed’s claims. Julie Pace of AP began, “I wanted to ask a few questions on Obamacare. Can you be specific on what guidance you're giving congressional Republicans on the time line for repeal and replace?” Trump joked, “Finally, ObamaCare. I thought it would never be asked [about].”
A transcript of all the questions can be found below:
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Trump press conference
DONALD TRUMP: Questions, Yes, Jon. Thank you.
JOHN ROBERTS (Fox News): A couple of aspects of the intelligence briefing that you received on Friday that we're looking for further clarification on.
ROBERTS: First of all, did the heads of the intelligence agencies provide you with a two-page summary of these unsubstantiated allegations and secondly to that and the broader picture, do you accept their opinion that Vladimir Putin ordered the hack of the DNC, the attempted hack of the RNC and if you do, how will that color your attempts to build a relationship with a leader who has been accused of committing an act of espionage?
ROBERTS: And just the last part of that question, when I said how could all of this potentially color your attempts to build a better relationship with President Putin?
JON KARL (ABC): Thank you, Mr. President-elect. On that intelligence report, the second part of their conclusion was that Vladimir Putin ordered it because he aspired to help you in the election. Do you accept that part of the finding and will you undo what President Obama did to punish the Russians for this?
UNIDENTIFIED FOREIGN REPORTER: Can you make clear whether during your visits to either Moscow or St. Petersburg you engaged in conduct that you now regret and that a reasonable —
TRUMP: No, I ----
UNIDENTIFIED FOREIGN REPORTER: — reasonable observer says say that you are potentially vulnerable to Russia or its intelligence agencies.
HALLIE JACKSON: How you plan to disentangle yourself from your business. But first I have to follow up on these Russia remarks. Based on your comments today, do you believe the hacking was justified? Does Russia have any leverage over you, financial or otherwise, and if not, will you release your tax returns to prove it?
JACKSON: Will you release your tax returns to prove what you're saying about no deals in Russia?
TRUMP: Well, I’m not releasing the tax returns because, as you know, I’m under audit.
JACKSON: Every president since the ‘70s has released their taxes. The last six have released them.
TRUMP: Oh, gee. I’ve never heard that. I’ve never heard that. You know, the only ones who care about my tax returns are the reporters. Okay, they are the only one.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER FROM ONE AMERICA NEWS: What is your response in your opinion — your cabinet filled with conflicts of interest and do you plan to set an example in the future to make sure that your cabinet and everyone throughout your administration —
TRUMP: Good question.
JULIE PACE: I wanted to ask a few questions on Obamacare. Can you be specific on what guidance you're giving congressional Republicans on the time line for repeal and replace?
PACE: Whether it needs to be simultaneous.
TRUMP: Finally Obamacare. I thought it would never be asked.
PACE: I also wanted to ask if you outlined —
PACE: — for a plan of what the replace package would look like. Would it guarantee coverage for those with health insurance through the current ObamaCare law?
JON STEINBERG (Cheddar TV): President-elect Trump, when you look at all the meetings you had with Carrier and Alibaba do you conceive of making this a program, maybe sitting inside Commerce and follow-up question how soon will we see the program on capital repatriation and corporate tax cuts?
MAJOR GARRETT (CBS): President-elect, I have a question about the Supreme Court and the border security but I also want to ask about something you said on Twitter this morning. “Are we living in Nazi Germany?” What were you driving at there? Do you have a problem with the intelligence community? And on the Supreme Court, what is your time line? You said a while ago you were down to four. Have you conducted those interviews yet? What's your time line for nominating and on the border fence, it now appears clear U.S. taxpayers will have to pay for it up front. What is your plan to get Mexico to pay for it?
TRUMP: I got it. I got it. You have any more?
GARRETT: A tweet you had this morning about are we living in Nazi Germany. What were you driving at there? What are you trying to tell the American people?
TRUMP Go ahead. Go ahead.
JIM ACOSTA: Mr. President-elect --
TRUMP: Go ahead.
ACOSTA: Since you are attacking our news organization—
TRUMP: Not you. Not you. Your organization is terrible.
ACOSTA: You are attacking our news organization. Can you give us a chance to ask a question?
TRUMP: Go ahead. Quiet. Quiet.
ACOSTA: Mr. President, can you say categorically —
TRUMP: Go ahead. She's asking a question. Don't be rude.
ACOSTA: Mr. President elect, can you give us a question? You are attacking us!
TRUMP: Don’t be rude. No, I’m not going to give you a question. You are fake news.
ACOSTA: Sir, can you say categorically that nobody — now, Mr. President-elect, that's not appropriate.
TRUMP: Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Mr. President, president Obama, do you think he went too far with the sanctions he put on Russia after the hacking? Will you roll them back? What do you think of Lindsey Graham’s plan to send you a bill for tougher ones?
IAN PANNELL (BBC News): As far as we understanding the intelligence community are still looking at these allegations, it's false news as you describe it. If they come back with any kind of conclusion that's any of it stands up, if any of it is true, will you consider your position, would you —
TRUMP: There's nothing they can come back with, okay, yes, go ahead.
MATT BOYLE: publish fake news and all the problems that we've seen throughout the media over the course of the election, what reforms do you recommend for this industry here?
UNIDENTIFIED: Mr. President-elect just wanted to follow up on the questions about the U.S. intelligence community and be very clear about what you're saying. Do you trust your U.S. Intelligence officials and what do you say to foreign policy experts who say you're weakening national security by waning this war of words against that community?
UNIDENTIFIED: Mr. President-elect, you said just now you believe that Russia, indeed, was responsible for the hacking of the DNC and John Podesta’s e-mails, et cetera.
TRUMP: You know what? Could have been others also.
UNIDENTIFIED: Why did you spend weeks undermining U.S. Intelligence community before simply getting the facts and then making a public statement?
CECILIA VEGA: Mr. President-elect, ABC News. Thank you, Mr. President-elect. Can you stand here today once and for all and say that no one connected to you or your campaign had any contact with Russia leading up to or during the presidential campaign and if you indeed do believe that Russia was behind the hacking, what is your message to Vladimir Putin right now?