ABC News(NEW YORK) — President-elect Donald Trump called the new unsubstantiated allegations that Russia is in possession of personal and financial information about him as “nonsense.”
“A thing like that should have never been written, it should never been had and it should certainly never have been released,” Trump said during his first press conference since the election.
“I want to thank a lot of the news organizations here today because they looked at that nonsense that was released by maybe the intelligence agencies, who knows, but maybe the intelligence agencies, which would be a tremendous blot on their record if they in fact did that,” Trump continued.
Trump referred to the allegations as “fake news” on Twitter Tuesday night, a claim he reiterated Wednesday morning with reporters.
“I read the information outside of that meeting. It’s all fake news. It’s phony stuff. It didn’t happen,” Trump said.
The president-elect confirmed that he had heard about the report before it was made public, calling it “an absolute disgrace.”
The Russia Question
The questions about the report did not stop Trump from praising Russia and President Vladimir Putin, who he repeatedly complimented during the presidential campaign.
“If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability,” he said.
He repeated his earlier statement that he doesn’t have any business ties to Russia.
Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
Trump was asked about the intelligence community’s consensus that Russian hackers interfered in the presidential campaign with the release of emails from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager.
“As far as hacking, I think it was Russia, but I also think we’ve been hacked by other countries, other people,” he said, citing an alleged hack from China.
Trump confirmed that he believes Russia was behind the hacking, but said that he doesn’t believe it will continue to be a threat because Trump plans to build a stronger relationship with Putin.
“He won’t be doing it. Russia will have much greater respect for our country when I’m leading it than when other people have led it. You will see that. Russia will respect our country more. He shouldn’t have done it,” Trump said.
Back in Front of the Cameras
Wednesday marks 167 days since Trump last held a formal press conference. His transition team had previously scheduled an event in December but delayed it, arguing that Trump needed more time to resolve potential conflicts of interest before he entered the White House.
Trump started the news conference by talking about how often he made such appearances during the campaign.
“I think we probably maybe won the nomination because of news conferences … we stopped giving them because there was quite a bit of inaccurate news,” Trump said.
Business Plans Announced
Trump’s two oldest sons — Donald Jr. and Eric — will take control over the Trump Organization along with a longtime Trump employee, according to Sherry Dillon, who spoke at the news conference on behalf of law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka is removing herself from the management of the company as she and her husband Jared Kushner, who was named as a senior adviser to Trump, are moving to Washington, D.C. She will be “focused on settling her children into their new homes and schools,” Dillon said.
The Trump Organization will not be allowed to make any new foreign business deals, but new domestic deals will be allowed if they pass “a vigorous vetting process,” said Dillon.
Dillon defended the decision not to put the Trump Organization in a blind trust or dismantle it entirely, saying, “President-elect Trump should not be expected to destroy the company he built.”
Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.