Trump’s press conference: 5 things to watch for


President-elect Donald Trump will deliver his first press conference since winning the presidency Wednesday at 11 a.m., a closely watched event a little more than a week before his inauguration.  

The real estate tycoon turned future president has not answered how he plans to avoid conflicts of interests with his massive business holdings once he takes office. And he’s let a pile of other questions mount during the transition that reporters are hoping to discuss.  

Here are five things to watch for at Trump’s news conference.   

Does Trump believe intelligence reports about Russia and the election? 

{mosads}Since the election, Trump has frequently cast doubt on intelligence agency reports that Russian-backed hackers stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and other sources to help him win the election.

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 about 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 report adds still more attention to the allegations that Russian hackers meant to sway the election for Trump. 

While Trump’s most recent statement acknowledges that Russia has tried to hack American interests, it didn’t expand on whether he’s been convinced that the Kremlin was behind the attacks on the Democrats. 

Expect a healthy dose of questions about the topic that’s dominated the media discussion during Trump’s post-election press conference hiatus. 

What’s Trump’s demeanor?

Trump has had a contentious relationship with the media throughout his campaign, and it’s unlikely that his absence from their questioning has made the heart grow fonder.  

It’s been 168 days since Trump’s last press conference, and reporters are itching to question him.  

{mosads}Trump’s most recent press conferences were fraught with insults and tense moments, the climax of months of accusing the media of working with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.  

At his last press conference, in July, he told NBC’s Katy Tur to “be quiet” during a heated exchange.

And just a few months earlier, he blasted ABC News’s Tom Llamas as a “sleaze” after laying into the press for questioning whether he really followed through on his promise to donate millions of dollars to veterans groups.  

But that was candidate Trump, not President-elect Trump.  

With so much time passed since Trump’s last press conference, it’s likely that Wednesday’s exchanger will get tense as reporters look to press him 

What kind of tone does Trump set? Is it the familiar, combative campaign tone that led his supporters to chant “CNN sucks” at rallies and boo the press pen? Or will he change to a more measured, congenial approach now that he’s the president-elect?

Where does he stand on ObamaCare?  

Trump has been sending out signals from his Trump Tower office as Congress battles over whether repeal and replacement plans should go hand-in-hand. 

On Friday, he called Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has been publicly calling for a simultaneous repeal and replace of the controversial healthcare 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 that 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.   

Look for some questions focused on Republican lawmakers’ plan to get rid of ObamaCare for good, as well as more on what Trump might want in a replacement. 

What about the wall?

Trump’s southern border wall became a centerpiece of his campaign. But now that he’s president, it’s time to deliver.

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 the U.S. 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?   

How will he avoid conflicts of interest?

Wednesday’s press conference had originally been scheduled for December to give Trump the ability to explain his plans to hand over the massive Trump Organization and keep himself free of conflicts of interest as chief executive. 

The general framework has been set for weeks, with Trump himself revealing some preliminary details in tweets last month.

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 curry favor with 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.

Many experts and even Trump critics have suggested that the prohibition might not apply in this case. Still, Trump will likely be asked to explain the decision, as well as what role Trump’s daughter Ivanka, Kushner’s wife, may play in the administration. 

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Mitch McConnell Rand Paul

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