Trump admits that he thinks Russia was behind election hacks

In his first conference after winning the elections, Trump admitted for the first time that Moscow was likely behind the election hacks. He also spoke on range of issues including repealing and replacing Obamacare and building a wall with Mexico.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a news cenference at Trump Tower on January 11, 2017 in New York City.

Updated Jan 12, 2017

In his first conference after winning the elections, President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday admitted for the first time that Moscow was likely behind the election hacks. He also berated the media and US intelligence agencies as he denied explosive allegations about his ties with Russia.

"As far as hacking, I think it was Russia, but I also think we've been hacked by other countries, other people," he said.

'No dealings with Russia'

"I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals in Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we've stayed away. And I have no loans with Russia," Trump said.

Trump again refused to back away from his openness towards Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

"If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability, because we have a horrible relationship with Russia," Trump said. "I don't know that I'm going to get along with Vladimir Putin. I hope I do. But there's a good chance I won't."

He also reiterated his claims that he will not release his tax returns since they are "still under audit."

Trump angrily rejects 'phony' Russia dossier claims

The 70-year-old billionaire angrily accused CNN of being "fake news" and called BuzzFeed – which published a dossier with the allegedly incriminating material drawn up by a former British intelligence agent hired to do "opposition research" on Trump – a "failing pile of garbage."

He also warned BuzzFeed they would "suffer the consequences."

"It's all fake news. It's phony stuff. It didn't happen," he said, referring to allegations of lurid behaviour in a Moscow hotel room.

"I think it's a disgrace that information would be let out," Trump said.

It "was released by maybe the intelligence agencies, who knows, but maybe the intelligence agencies, which would be a tremendous blot on their record," Trump said, later saying it was "disgraceful."

On Twitter, he earlier decried a political "witch hunt" against him and asked: "Are we living in Nazi Germany?"

President-elect insists US will build a wall and Mexico will reimburse it

Trump vowed to forge ahead with plans for a wall on the southern US border after taking office, and said Mexico would reimburse the United States for the cost.

"I could wait about a year and a half until we finish our negotiations with Mexico, which we'll start immediately after we get to office, but I don't want to wait," the president-elect said.

"We're going to start building," he said. "Mexico in some form – and there are many different forms – will reimburse us." 

"That will happen, whether it's a tax or whether it's a payment."

Mexican officials have strongly denied that they will do so, however. The country's new foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, said on Tuesday that there is "no way" his country will pay for such a wall, though he said he was ready to negotiate with the Trump administration.

The Mexican peso fell 0.9 percent after the Trump press conference before regaining some of its losses. It has fallen since Trump's election on November 8.

Obama care will be repealed and replaced simultaneously

Trump said he was going to submit a plan to Congress that would outline a replacement plan.

"It'll be repeal and replace, it'll be essentially simultaneously," Trump said.

Earlier during the day, the largest business lobby group in the US said it could be a mistake to quickly repeal Obamacare without developing a replacement healthcare insurance plan and urged the incoming Trump administration not to erect trade barriers.

"As a new healthcare plan takes shape, it's important to remember things were far from perfect before we started, before Obamacare," US Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue said in his annual address outlining the group's priorities. "Repeal alone is not going to fix our health care, there should be a smooth transition."

Firms that send jobs abroad will pay 'major border tax'

The president-elect warned US companies that if they move production offshore, their products will face substantial taxes when they are imported into the country.

"There will be a major border tax on these companies that are leaving and getting away with murder," he told a press conference.

No new foreign deals for Trump Organisation during presidency, says Trump's lawyer

Donald Trump's huge business empire will undertake no foreign deals while he is US president, a lawyer advising his companies said on Wednesday.

In restructuring the Trump organisation into a trust to be managed away from his eyes and avoid conflicts of interest, the group has terminated more than 30 pending deals in recent weeks, said Sheri Dillon, an attorney for the group.

"The trust agreement as directed by President Trump imposes severe restrictions on new deals. No new foreign deals will be made whatsoever during the duration of Trump's presidency," she said.

Trump said that he rejected a $2 billion deal in Dubai last weekend, demonstrating he was putting his business behind as he prepares to move into the White House.

"Over the weekend, I was offered $2 billion to do a deal in Dubai with a very, very, very amazing man, a great, great developer from the Middle East," he told a press conference. 

"I didn't have to turn it down," he said. "But I have a no-conflict-of-interest provision as president."

Trump to cede 'complete' control of business to sons

Just over a week before he takes office, Trump confirmed he had ceded "complete" managing control of his global property empire to his two sons, seeking to dispel fears about possible conflict of interests.

"My two sons, who are right here, Don and Eric, are going to be running the company. They are going to be running it in a very professional manner. They're not going to discuss it with me," the president-elect said in a news conference.

Trump said he had signed documents "turning over complete and total control to my sons," before handing the stage to his lawyer, who outlined the future structure of the Trump Organisation.

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies