Donald Trump press conference

Trump Press Conference: Press Probes Donald Trump Putin Relationship, Russian Sex Video, Russia Election Hacking, US Intelligence Agencies, and Obamacare

In the first Donald Trump press conference in six months, the President-elect quite naturally had to address a number of issues, controversies and outright scandals that have taken place since his confrontation with the news media. This included the current scandal regarding alleged Russian sex video tapes that could potentially be used to blackmail Trump.

As reported by the Associated Press, Donald Trump also had to deal with a number of other topics, from the Trump-Putin relationship to the U.S. intelligence agencies’ analysis of Russian election hacking. Reporters no doubt felt they had to squeeze quite a bit into this rare Trump press conference, given the likelihood that it might be many months before another one takes place.

Trump’s reluctance to engage the media at press conferences is hardly surprising, given that — according to CNN — his last press conference in July 2016 was a disaster. Donald Trump went off the carefully crafted message his campaign staff had written, creating more fires than he actually put out.

Trump children join Trump and Pence at Trump press conference.
Trump children join Trump and Pence at Trump press conferences. [Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]

The Trump Putin Relationship

For Democrats and Republicans alike, the nature and extent of the Trump-Putin relationship is a matter of great concern. Over the last year, Donald Trump has said things about the Russian dictator that most objective analysts consider unprecedented in the history of U.S.-Russian relations.

Historically, both Democratic and Republican presidents have viewed Russia and its territorial and global ambitions as a threat to U.S. interests and the security of the American people. For whatever reason, Trump has a different opinion.

Despite the fact that the Russians are still armed with thousands of nuclear warheads and apparently planning for the possible destruction of the United States and all its citizens, Donald Trump seems to have more respect for Vladimir Putin than he does U.S. intelligence agencies, President Obama and even other members of the Republican Party.

In response to questions about this at the Trump press conference this morning, Donald Trump said, “If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what folks… That is called an asset, not a liability.” This response is unlikely to assuage the concerns many — even Senate Republicans — have about the Trump-Putin relationship.

Trump Russian Sex Video

The Trump press conference also briefly addressed the rumor regarding a Trump Russian sex video that – supposedly – the Russian government and Vladimir Putin could use to blackmail President Trump once he is in office. Speaking to the press about this, Trump — not surprisingly — denied the existence of such a salacious and compromising sex video.

He went on to attack the news media and online outlets for releasing this “fake news” as he described it. Of course, Trump’s response overlooks the decision over the last few days of U.S. intelligence agencies to take these long-standing allegations more seriously. The Associated Press notes that the FBI is currently reviewing whether this particularly unsavory suggestion about the Trump Putin relationship is unfounded or not.

Donald Trump also flatly stated at the press conference that if the Russians had damaging information about him – whether it was sex videos or revelations about Trump finances – they would have already released it. Of course, this argument entirely ignored the scenario in which the Russians would hold on to such information to use it for extortion at a later date.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence at Trump Press conference.
Donald Trump and Mike Pence at Trump Press conference. [Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]

Russia Election Hacking

Trump made a halfhearted admission at the press conference that Russia likely was, in fact, responsible for hacking the 2016 election in general – and the Democratic Party in particular. In a “blame the victim” maneuver, Trump still implied that this hacking was the fault of the Democratic Party, suggesting it was their weak security measures that cause the problem.

Trump further suggested — as he has before — that the RNC’s cyber security defenses were much more effective than those of the DNC, which is why they weren’t hacked. However, all of the information obtained by U.S. intelligence agencies seems to imply that the Republicans were hacked and that the Russians obtained information they chose not to release — for whatever reason.

Trump And U.S. Intelligence Agencies

Donald Trump has frequently indicated that he has limited trust in U.S. intelligence agencies and their conclusions — at least when it comes to himself and his Russian friend Vladimir Putin. He reiterated this in the Trump press conference of today, saying

“I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies let any information that turned out to be so false and fake to get out … That’s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do.”

Donald Trump frequently brings up the supposed failures of U.S. intelligence agencies in the past to suggest that they are mistaken about Russia election hacking. Trump has pointed to the U.S. intelligence agency assessments that were used to justify the invasion of Iraq. However, most experts agree that policymakers at the time distorted the intelligence these agencies provided to them to rationalize the Iraq war.

Trump And Obamacare

For many Americans, one of the most critical issues brought up by Trump at his press conference was the question of Obamacare and Trump’s plans to repeal it. Even though many Republicans in the Senate and House seem to be having second thoughts about simply dropping Obamacare without having something — however inadequate it might be — to replace it, Donald Trump seems determined to drop it as quickly as possible.

During the Trump press conference, the President-elect addressed the question of repealing Obamacare, saying he wanted to repeal and replace the program “almost simultaneously.” It’s the “almost” part of this statement that’s likely to leave millions of Americans deeply concerned about the future of their healthcare. “Almost” having health insurance is not quite the same thing as actually having it.

[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]