Wednesday January 11, 2017
Welcome to our TOPLive blog of U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump's first press conference since winning the election. We'll kick off at 10:50 a.m. New York time, with the conference scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
Hi everyone, and thanks for joining us today for our TOPLive blog of President-elect Donald Trump's first press conference since winning the White House. The obvious focus today: how Trump will react to questions about unsubstantiated reports that the Russian government collected damaging information about his finances and personal conduct.
Trump responded via Twitter: “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me,” he posted Wednesday morning. “I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”
Joining me today will be:
- Matt Phillips, Washington reporter
- Andrew Cinko, U.S. markets editor
- Caroline Schaberg, social media editor
- Anny Kuo, AV/photo editor
- Romaine Bostick, TOPLive editor
- Caleb Solomon, TOPLive editor
- Sara Marley, TOP editor
- Ed Dufner, TOP editor
Trump's also likely to face broader questions about Russian electoral interference, and if he accepts the intelligence community's conclusions that Moscow was behind the hack and release of e-mails belonging to the Democratic National Committee and its campaign chairman. Trump has repeatedly questioned those assertions in the past, but we'll be watching to see how his tone may have changed following Friday's briefing with top intelligence officials.
BuzzFeed on Tuesday published a 35-page compilation of memos purporting to contain the uncorroborated information about Trump and his associates. Trump swiftly denied the allegations in a series of tweets this morning, and the Kremlin has also said it did not collect material on the president-elect. But he's likely to face tough questions about what he was told by intelligence officials, and perhaps even his personal conduct.
Around 300 reporters are crammed into the lobby of Trump Tower for the news conference, according to Jen Jacobs, my colleague on Bloomberg's White House team. Dozens of news outlets were denied access for space reasons. She's spotted Trump aides Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and Keith Schiller in the Tower today, and they're likely to be with the president-elect at today's main event.
Trump is also likely to face questions about how he plans to disentangle his business interests upon entering the White House. The President-elect proposed putting his businesses into a trust run by his children, but critics say the steps wouldn't be enough to prevent conflicts of interest. Trump had promised to unveil his plans in a press conference last month, but ended up scrapping that event.
There are plenty of other questions reporters have for Trump. The president-elect hasn't said how he thinks congressional Republicans should approach their quest to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Nor has Trump said how he'd approach his promises to roll back international agreements on climate change or Iran's nuclear program.
Before he steps up to the podium, the post-election Trump trades continue:
- Dollar rally accelerating leading up to the event, making gains at the expense of the euro and yen
- Stocks are modestly higher, but economy-sensitive sectors, energy and industrials, are the biggest gainers
- U.S. Treasuries are little changed to lower today. They've been unable to recoup any of their losses since election day amid concern the pace of inflation will accelerate under Trump
Other foreign policy questions for Trump could focus on his decision to break with diplomatic tradition and accept a phone call from the leader of Taiwan, and how he plans to react to the Obama administration's decision to abstain from a United Nations Security Council resolution vote criticizing Israeli settlements.
The latest from the press conference room: Former "The Apprentice" contestant Omarosa Manigault, who is getting a job in the Trump White House as an aide, was spotted in the room as preparations are under way.
Two-minute warning for the press conference just given by Trump aides.
For terminal users, you can watch the press conference live HERE.
It's also the president-elect's first chance to field questions about his transition effort, and his Cabinet nominees. Rex Tillerson, the former chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil tapped by Trump to be his Secretary of State, is on Capitol Hill today for his confirmation hearing. Today's press conference from Trump Tower will be the president-elect's first in 167 days.
Tillerson is getting grilled by members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on his relationship with Russia, his view on sanctions, and whether he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is a war criminal.
Financial markets have been on a wild ride post-election and today's press conference may keep the loop-de-loops coming.
Here's what BMO will be listening for:
Donald Trump focusing "primarily on fiscal stimulus and tax-cuts" at press conference scheduled for 11am will help equities, while Treasuries will likely "come under pressure," BMO rate strategist Ian Lyngen says in email to Bloomberg.
Lyngen also addresses tariffs and China, see Felice Maranz's write-up of her interview with the strategist.
An odd bit of stagecraft: a long table has been moved next to Trump's lectern. Could mean nothing, but on the campaign trail, the president-elect was fond of bringing props to his press conferences -- including one instance where aides piled up steaks and wine as part of an effort to highlight his many business interests.
One theme of this news conference...
will be Trump's irritation that some in the intel community leaked classified info about him to the press, an aide tells me.That was the topic of conversations inside the tower this morning. Aides "furious" that intel agents trying to undermine Trump.
Also some props just arrived
Staffers delivered stacks of skinny manila folders and are organizing them on a table to Trump's left.
The folders may be related to Trump's plans for his business interests upon entering the White House.
While we're waiting for Trump to arrive, a plug for our running story on the reports that the president-elect was briefed that Russia may have gathered unsubstantiated, damaging information about him. This is likely to be the main focus of today's event.
Just spotted entering the press conference area: former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Are the oil refining and exporting businesses ramping up their operations because of Trump's impending inauguration?
It's hard to know for certain, but the oil inventory data earlier today shows an industry that's booming. Javier Blas, Bloomberg's chief energy correspondent, notes crude oil intake by refiners surged to a record of 17.1 million barrels a day last week. And that the U.S. is shipping a significant chunk of the petroleum products it refines overseas. Meanwhile, U.S. crude oil exports hit an all-time high, with more than 700,000 barrels a day shipped overseas last week.
Jared Kushner, the Trump son-in-law recently announced as an unpaid White House aide, is in the room now for the press conference.
- Spicer Says Buzzfeed Report Is Dangerous, Has `False' Info
- Trump Aide Spicer: Report A Sad, Pathetic Attempt to Get Clicks
Trump is being introduced by Sean Spicer, who he has named as his press secretary. Spicer is currently denouncing the BuzzFeed report as "dangerous" and "salacious." Spicer calls the BuzzFeed report a "sad and pathetic" effort to get clicks.
Spicer refuted individual points in the memo published by BuzzFeed, saying Trump aides never undertook the travel described in the document. He then introduced VP-elect Mike Pence.
Mike Pence says he's honored to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Trump
Trump opens by saying he may have won the GOP nomination because of his willingness to give news conferences. He adds he stopped giving them because of inaccurate reports.