Trump meets press, condemns leak of fake news by spy agencies!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
Ready to assume power on Jan 20 at White House as its legal custodian, President-elect Donald Trump met the press on January 1, accusing US intelligence agencies of leaking allegations that Russia has compromising material on him. “That’s something that Nazi Germany would have done,” Trump said while replying to unsubstantiated allegations that his election team colluded with Russia and there were salacious videos of his private life.
President-elect Donald Trump held his first press conference in nearly six months, as scheduled, on January 1, lambasting the circulation of unverified allegations about his dealings with Russia while continuing to advocate for a warm relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The press conference was scheduled in order for Trump to give details about his business affairs but was dominated by the allegations of compromising material. Trump said the information “should have never been written and certainly should never have been released.”It’s all fake news, it’s phoney stuff, it didn’t happen,” he said, adding that “sick people” had “put that crap together… it’s an absolute disgrace”.
Trump said he could not talk about what he had heard in last week’s intelligence agency briefing but said there had been “many witnesses” there and that it would be a “tremendous blot” on the reputation of intelligence agencies if they had been responsible for leaking the details. He added later in the briefing: “I think it was disgraceful – disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. I think it’s a disgrace… and that’s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do.” In response White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it was “deeply misguided for anybody, at any level, to question the integrity and motives of the patriots” in the nation’s intelligence agencies.
Trying to be cleaver, Trump either skipped crucial issues like China, Mideast, Syria, Palestine, etc. or did not specifically address questions regarding whether members of his staff were in contact with Russian officials during the campaign. Trump, whose public comments in the wake of the election have been limited to a handful of media interviews and daily Twitter missives, also turned the podium over to an attorney who outlined his plans to shift the management of his company to his sons. But he will not create a blind trust or fully divest of his assets.. Trump also refused to take questions from news organizations whom he felt had reported inaccurately on his relationship with Russia, calling Buzzfeed “a failing pile of garbage,” and telling a CNN reporter “you’re fake news.”
Trump continued to repeat the damaging information about Hillary Clinton’s campaign exposed by the hacks. While he declined to weigh in directly on intelligence assessments that indicate that Putin himself ordered operations to aid Trump’s victory, Trump reiterated his favorable language about Putin during the campaign, saying “If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability.”
Buzzfeed published an unverified dossier claiming to detail Russia’s efforts to cultivate Trump — including by direct interactions with Trump surrogates — and to collect compromising information about him. The document has not been authenticated by Buzzfeed.. Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer and Vice President-elect Mike Pence both denounced Buzzfeed’s report from the podium as false and irresponsible. A 35-page dossier of allegations has been published in full on Buzzfeed and reported by CNN. Trump called Buzzfeed a “failing pile of garbage” and accused CNN of “going out of their way to build it up”. He refused to take a CNN reporter’s question at the press conference. CNN later defended its decision to publish what it called “carefully sourced reporting”, saying it was “vastly different from Buzzfeed”.
Spicer called both the Buzzfeed and CNN reports a “sad and pathetic attempt to get clicks,” noting that Buzzfeed’s own report had acknowledged errors in the unsubstantiated document. The head of US spy agencies James Clapper denied that intelligence had leaked the content from a classified briefing. Intelligence agencies considered the claims relevant enough to brief both Trump and President Obama last week.
Trump said for the first time that he accepted Russia was behind hacking attacks that took place during the presidential campaign. In his first briefing as president-elect, Trump also confirmed he was handing total control of his businesses to his two sons.
The allegations claim Russia has damaging information about the president-elect’s business interests, and salacious video evidence of his private life, including claims of using prostitutes at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow. Denying any such claims, Trump said that as a high-profile person he was extremely cautious about all that he did when travelling abroad. The president-elect was also asked about the hacking scandal that dominated the US election campaign, with US spy agencies concluding Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic Party emails.
Trump said for the first time “I think it was Russia”, but added that “we get hacked by other people”. He said: “We talk about the hacking and hacking’s bad and it shouldn’t be done.” But he added: “Look at the things that were hacked, look at what was learned from that hacking… Hillary Clinton got the questions to the debate and didn’t report it.” Russia strongly denied the allegations. Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, said they were “pulp fiction” and a “clear attempt to damage relations”.
Trump did not answer directly when asked whether his team had communicated with Russia during the election campaign but he did say that any hacking by Putin must stop. “He shouldn’t be doing it. He won’t be doing it.” Other areas of the briefing: Trump said he had formally handed “complete and total” control of his business empire to sons Don Jr and Eric to avoid any conflict of interest, adding: “They’re not going to discuss it with me” The president-elect said there would be “a major border tax” on companies moving from the US to other nations David Shulkin was selected to head Veterans Affairs A plan was to be submitted “essentially simultaneously” to both repeal and replace Barack Obama’s affordable health care programme Obamacare The wall to be built on the Mexican border would start as soon as possible with US funding but Trump added: “Mexico in some form… will reimburse us”
Before the briefing, the Trump team acted to dismiss news of the compromising material. Michael Cohen, a lawyer to Trump named in the 35-page dossier, denied a specific claim that he went to Prague in August or September 2016 to meet Kremlin representatives to talk about the hacking. “I’ve never been to Prague in my life. “fakenews,” he tweeted. US media suggest the alleged salacious videos were prepared as kompromat – a Russian acronym for compromising materials.
The allegations began circulating in political and media circles in recent months. They are based on memos provided to an independent organisation opposed to Trump by a former member of Britain’s MI6, Christopher Steele. Steele is a director of Orbis – which describes itself as a leading corporate intelligence company. He did not respond to a request for comment. Sources say the CIA regards the memos as “credible”. The original intention was to derail Trump’s candidacy, reports say. The media first saw the documents in October but has been unable to verify the claims included. Several material inaccuracies have been highlighted. However, past work by the British operative was considered by US intelligence to be reliable, US media say.
Earlier, Donald Trump used to regularly give press conferences. They were free-form events, bits of political performance art that dominated the news and helped the presidential hopeful win the Republican nomination. The last one came more than five months ago. That was when Trump urged Russia to hunt down Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails. Less than a week before – the day after he accepted the Republican presidential nomination – he went out of the way to belittle former Republican presidential opponent Ted Cruz, stepping all over his own post-convention bounce. It wasn’t particularly surprising, then, that the Trump team decided to end the practice, despite the fact that they had spent months mocking Mrs Clinton for her own efforts to avoid media queries.
As a Candidate, Trump would occasionally take questions in small media gaggles or offer one-on-one interviews – usually on Fox News – but the formal, free-for-all style press conferences were a thing of the past. Now, nine days before his presidential inauguration, the Trump press conference is back – and it turns out he hasn’t lost a controversial step. Before getting into the give-and-take with reporters, however, Trump explained why it had been so long. “We stopped having them because we were getting a lot inaccurate news,” he said.
In other words, he was punishing the press for what he saw as unfair treatment. On Wednesday, instead of punishing the press with his absence, he would punish them with his presence.
Trump made a fair amount of news in his press conference – on dealing with his sprawling business empire, his views on Russian hacking and his policy priorities – but the theatre of this press conference became a story in itself.Just over a week from his inauguration, Trump is still the same man he was on the campaign trail and on the reality show set. The Donald Trump on Wednesday is the Donald Trump who will govern the US, and the theatre of the event is something that will be a part of American lives for the next four years. Here are a few of the key takeaways.
Trump liked to focus on a key enemy or target of scorn in past press conferences, and Wednesday was no different. He arrived more than ready to air his latest round of grievances. Buzzfeed News – which posted an “intelligence dossier” full of unverified allegations against the president-elect – was a “failing pile of garbage” that is going to “suffer the consequences”. CNN, which published a multi-sourced reported article about the intelligence briefing Trump received based in part on that dossier, is “terrible” and traffics in “fake news”. The president-elect verbally sparred with CNN reporter Jim Acosta, refusing to take his questions.
The president-elect even took a swipe at BBC News. He had a few carrots for media organisations he said were treating him fairly when it came to the latest round of allegations, singling out the New York Times by name (although the Times also listed the sordid details of specific allegations against Trump in one of its news stories). “I have great respect for the news and great respect for freedom of the press and all of that,” Trump said. “But I will tell you, there were some news organisations with all that was just said that were so professional, so incredibly professional, that I’ve just gone up a notch as to what I think of you.”
Trump also took a few questions from oft-overlooked conservative outlets, such as One America News Network and Breitbart, the alt-right media empire until recently headed by senior Trump advisor Steve Bannon. Reporter Matt Boyle asked Trump what sort of reforms he might recommend for the media industry given the problems with “fake news”. It allowed the president-elect to take a few more swings at the mainstream press – criticising some of the reporters “sitting right in front of us”. “They’re very, very dishonest people, but I think it’s just something we’re going to have to live with,” he said. “I guess the advantage I have is that I can speak back. When it happens to somebody that doesn’t have that kind of a megaphone, they can’t speak back, it’s a very sad thing. I’ve seen people destroyed.”
It was speculated, during the press conference, Trump would deliver a sharp rebuke and be greeted with applause. Trump would crack a joke followed by laughter. Trump would ask a rhetorical question, and get a chorus of responses. It was enough to make some viewers wonder whether the normally reserved reporters were throwing their lot in with the soon-to-be president.
In fact, the animated reactions were coming from Trump supporters, political staff and business employees who were crammed into the Trump Tower lobby along with journalists. Given that Trump seems to draw energy from a welcoming crowd, stacking a press conference with a friendly audience may not be a bad idea from a strategic standpoint. It made for an odd experience when juxtaposed with his sometimes aggressive press questioners – and will be even more peculiar if the practice is continued in the White House briefing room.
Trump says he’s “very much a germaphobe”. When confronted by evidence of leaked intelligence, he conducted a mole-hunting investigation within his own organisation. When he’s travelling abroad, he warns everyone with him to be on guard and watch for hidden cameras in hotels. “In those rooms, you have cameras in the strangest places,” he said. “Cameras that are so small with modern technology, you can’t see them and you won’t know. You better be careful, or you’ll be watching yourself on nightly television.” Part of the reason Trump makes for such compelling viewing, is that when he goes off-script, there’s no telling where he’ll end up – and Wednesday was no different.
Another unusual characteristic of this press conference was that Trump was preceded on the stage both by Spicer and Vice-President Mike Pence. Spicer, who served as Republican National Committee spokesman before joining the Trump transition team, took his own swipes at the media, calling the Russian dossier reports “frankly outrageous and highly irresponsible”. Pence played the disappointed dad. “You know, I have long been a supporter of a free and independent press, and I always will be,” he said. “But with freedom comes responsibility.” Halfway through the press conference, Trump handed the stage over to lawyer Sheri Dillon, who read details of Trump’s efforts to avoid charges of conflict of interest from a prepared statement. Then Trump was back, ready to go a few more rounds with his press antagonists.
Donald Trump, lagging behind Hillary Clinton in polls, has outlined what he would do in his first 100 days were he to become US president. With 17 days until the election, much of the recent focus has been on controversies linked to his campaign. But in a speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he sought to highlight changes he would introduce. Among them were restrictions on lobbyists and a renegotiation on trade and climate change deals. Mrs Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine appeared at events on Saturday in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state in the race for the White House.
Trump’s advisers indicated before his speech that the measures announced would serve as the focus for the remaining two weeks of his campaign. Among the key details he announced were: restrictions on White House officials becoming lobbyists after they leave office; term limits for members of Congress; the cancellation of all payments to UN climate change programmes and the redeployment of those funds to fix US infrastructure; the start of the process of “removing the more than two million criminal, illegal immigrants” – and the denial of visa-free travel to countries who refused to take back their citizens
Before the poll, Donald Trump’s final pitch to the American people caught the attention of US voters: It was a mix of Republican boilerplate (Lower taxes! Less regulation!), anti-establishment populism (Axing trade deals! Extreme vetting of immigrants!) and the kind of off-message asides that have bedeviled his candidacy (I’m going to sue all my sexual harassment accusers!)
It wasn’t exactly the Gettysburg Address, but it did have some lines that could have been the foundation of a compelling outsider campaign. “I am asking the American people to rise above the noise and the clutter of our broken politics, and to embrace that great faith and optimism that has always been the central ingredient in the American character,” Mr Trump said. “I am asking you to dream big.”
With just over two weeks left before Election Day, however, it was probably much too late for Trump to make “faith and optimism” the focus of a campaign that has often been typified by darkness and anger.
The speech was one of the most detailed by Trump during his candidacy, and also touched on matters of security, economy and trade. He said the country was facing a “fork in the road” over its future.
Trump said he would sue every woman who has accused him of sexual assault or inappropriate behavior as soon as his presidential campaign was over. Ten women have come forward to accuse him of inappropriate behavior, in the weeks after a video emerged of him boasting of groping women and kissing them. “Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign,” he told the audience in Gettysburg. He said the media was fabricating stories to make him “look as bad and dangerous as possible”.
In domestic policy, Trump pledged to gut Obamacare and replace it with new legislation “essentially simultaneously,” a break with congressional Republicans who have cautioned that complex new health care legislation will take time to negotiate and complete.
Before his speech, Trump again attacked leading media outlets and suggested they were biased against him. He vowed to break up media conglomerates, saying he would scrap the rumoured purchase of the Time Warner company, the owner of CNN, by AT&T. However, those comments were made outside of his main speech, and it was not clear if they were being put forward as policy.
Clearly, Trump, who becomes the 45th president of the USA be inaugurated on 20 January 2017, is slowly but steadily changing his views, approach and philosophy as it is evident from his performance at meet the press program where he avoided al difficult issues and evaded difficult questions. Trump is maturing as he is going to assume power at White House in a few days.
Americans love big dreams and candidates who, in Abraham Lincoln’s words, appeal to the “better angels of our nature”.
Will Trump live up to the expectations of US voters who rejected Democratic party and its state terror sponsoring leader Mrs. Clinton, by pursuing truly humanistic polices in order to achieve the national interest of USA?
Will Trump support the genuine cause of freedom struggle being waged for decades by Palestinians and Kashmiris, for instance? This requires active role of American President and community to denounce aggressors in Israel and India so that world would take notice of honest mediation in regional disputes and end tensions.
Or, will he also, like his predecessors have done, continue to advance US interests by promoting capitalism cum imperialism and Zionist criminal regime?
Speculation is indeed interesting as Zionists and colonialists continue to seek to benefit from Trumps’ anti-Muslim and pro-Israeli rhetoric.
The press conference has given new insights of President elect Trump, however.