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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Trump VOWS to Relinquish CONTROL of Business Empire
Blasts Russia reports at news conference
President-elect Donald Trump unveiled a sweeping plan Wednesday to separate himself from his business empire, vowing to relinquish control of The Trump Organization and resign all positions in his companies as part of an effort to avoid conflicts of interest.
At his first news conference since winning the election, Trump also unveiled his pick for Veterans Affairs Department secretary -- and blasted reports that the Russians may have compromising information about him.
“It’s all fake news. It’s phony stuff. It didn’t happen,” Trump said.
Calling the claims “nonsense,” he questioned whether the intelligence community leaked the information. He said it would be a “tremendous blot on their record” if they did. He said the reports should never have been written, while praising others in the media for their restraint.
“I’ve just gone up a notch as to what I think of you,” he quipped.
But the crux of the press conference was an announcement from his team about his business plans, which now includes handing control of the global company bearing his name to sons Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, along with chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg.
Trump also plans to resign all offices and positions in his companies, and place his assets and investments in a trust. According to an attorney who spoke at the press conference, daughter Ivanka – whose husband Jared Kushner has accepted a senior adviser job in the White House – will relinquish all management authority as well.
Further, the Trump team announced the organization will donate all profits from foreign government stays at Trump hotels and properties to the U.S. Treasury, and bar foreign deals during his presidency.
The transition team also made clear Trump will not fully divest himself from his business interests, even as he cedes control of the operation. An attorney for The Trump Organization said it was “not realistic” to do so. And Trump plans to retain an ownership interest in the Old Post Office in Washington, D.C., where his new hotel opened last year.
The press conference tackled numerous hot-button topics, from ObamaCare to immigration to his Cabinet.
Addressing one of the few unfilled positions, Trump announced he has chosen David Shulkin to lead the VA. He currently is under secretary for health in the Veterans Affairs Department under the Obama administration.
The press conference comes at a busy – and tumultuous – time for the president-elect’s transition team. At the same time Trump is finalizing his Cabinet nominations and trying to get them confirmed and in place for the start of his administration, he continues to grapple with reports about Russian interference during the 2016 presidential campaign.
He was briefed last week on intelligence community findings about Russian hacking and other meddling during the campaign that allegedly included the breach and leak of emails from Democratic official accounts. But the story took a salacious turn overnight when it was reported that Trump and President Obama also were briefed on an unverified report Russia had compromising personal and financial information on him.
Both Moscow and the Trump team have vehemently denied the allegations. Trump, further, turned fire on the intelligence community Wednesday morning and blamed them for leaking the details.
"Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to `leak' into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?" he tweeted.
Incoming press secretary Sean Spicer also blasted the reports at Wednesday’s press conferece.
“It’s frankly outrageous and highly irresponsible for a left-wing blog … to drop highly salacious and flat-out false information on the Internet just days before he takes the oath of office,” he said, referring to BuzzFeed. “The fact that BuzzFeed and CNN made the decision to run with this unsubstantiated claim is a sad and pathetic attempt to get clicks.”