NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – For the first time since the election, President-elect Donald Trump held a news conference on Wednesday.
Late Tuesday, the president-elect responded to new bombshell reports by the blog site Buzzfeed that Russia reportedly gathered potentially compromising information about him, but but chose not to disclose it during the 2016 campaign.
FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
While the intelligence community is still in the process of corroborating the details, multiple government and intelligence officials tell CBS News the information originally came from a credible former British intelligence officer and was eventually turned over to U.S. intelligence, as well as other government officials.
Wednesday evening, James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, released a statement saying he had spoken with President-elect Trump.
He wrote, in part:
“I expressed my profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press, and we both agreed that they are extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security.”
Clapper added, “IC has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions. However, part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.”
Before Trump took the podium, longtime Republican spokesman Sean Spicer said the Buzzfeed report was “highly irresponsible for a left-wing blog to drop highly salacious and flat out false information on the Internet.”
Spicer added that the report was a “pathetic attempt to get clicks” and called it a “political witch hunt.”
Taking the podium, Trump thanked the news organizations who didn’t run what he called a fake news report.
“I have great for the news and great respect for freedom of the press, and all of that, but I must tell you there were some news organizations that were so professional, so incredibly professional, that I’ve just gone up a notch as to what I think of them,” said Trump.
The president-elect then moved on to what he called better news. Trump said Fiat Chrysler was going to be building facilities in the midwest and Ford has cancelled plans to build a billion dollar plant in Mexico and plan to expand their operations in Michigan.
He also spoke about addressing the concerns of out veterans because they “have been treated unfairly.”
“We’re going to straighten out the VA for our veterans,” he said.
Trump then opened it up to questions.
When asked about last week’s intelligence briefing concerning Russian hacking to influence the election, and if he was provided with the two pages of unverified allegations, Trump fired back.
“I think its a disgrace that information would be let out. I saw the information, I read the information outside of that meeting, it’s all fake news, phony stuff, it didn’t happen, and it was gotten by opponents of ours, a group of opponents got together, sick people, and they put that crap together. So I will tell you that no within the meeting, but outside the meeting, somebody released it and it should never have been released. I read what was released and I think it’s a disgrace.”
He continued, “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia but I think we also got hacked by other countries. I can say that when we lost 22-million names and everything else that was hacked recently they didn’t make a big deal out of that. That was probably China. We have much hacking going on, and one of the things we’re going to do, we have some of the greatest computer minds anywhere in the world that we’ve assembled and we’re going to form a defense.”
Trump also touched on his relation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset not a liability cause we have a horrible relationship with Russia. Russia can help us fight ISIS, which by the way is tricky. If you look this administration created ISIS by leaving at the wrong time. If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what folks, that’s called an asset, not a liability,” he said. “Now I don’t know if I’m going to get along with Vladimir Putin, I hope I do, but there’s a good chance I won’t. And if I don’t, do you obviously believe that Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me. Does anybody in this room really believe that? Give me a break.”
Trump added that Russia has not leverage over him because he has no business deals with them.
When asked if he would release his tax returns, Trump emphatically said no because, “reporters are the only ones interested in them.”
Trump said while in office he was turning over his business to his sons Don and Eric.
When asked about his Cabinet picks, Trumps said he’s picked one of the greatest ever.
“We’ve been hearing that from so many people. People are so happy,” he said. “I want to bring the greatest people into government cause we are way behind. We don’t make good deals anymore, we make bad deals. Our trade deals are a disaster. We have hundreds of billions of dollars in losses on a yearly basis. Hundreds of billions with China on trade imbalances, with Japan, with Mexico, with just about everybody. We don’t make good deals anymore. So we need people that are smart, we need people that are successful and so I’m very proud of the Cabinet and I think they are doing, very, very well.”
When someone asked about his plans to replace Obamacare, Trump said it was about time.
“You’ll be very proud of what we put forth having to do with health care. Obamacare is a complete and total disaster. They can say what they want, they can guide you any way they want to guide you. In some cases they guide you incorrectly. In most cases you realize what’s happened, its imploded as we said. 2017 is going to be the bad year, it’s going to be catastrophic. Frankly we could wait and watch and criticize, but it wouldn’t be fair to the people. We don’t want to own it politically. They own it right now. We’re going to be submitting, as soon as our Secretary is approved, a plan. It will be repeal and replace, it will be essentially simultaneously. It will most likely be on the same day or the same week. It’s very complicated stuff and we’re going to get a health bill passed, we’re going to get health care taken care of in this country.”
As for the wall on the Mexican border, Trump said negotiations will start as soon as he’s sworn in and they will reimburse the U.S. for its cost.
The president-elect also said that he would submit a replacement nomination for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia within two weeks of the inauguration.