NEW YORK: Opening his first news conference since the election, President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday confirmed that he has turned down a $2 billion real estate deal with Damac in Dubai.
Trump said this demonstates that he is putting his business behind him as he prepares to move into the White House.
“Over the weekend, I was offered $2 billion to do a deal in Dubai with a very, very, very amazing man, a great, great developer from the Middle East,” he told a press conference. “I didn't have to turn it down," he said. "But I have a no-conflict-of-interest provision as president.”
Trump denies, denounces reports on Russia ties: 'a disgrace'
Trump responded to suggestions that U.S. intelligence agencies leaked unsubstantiated reports to the media about his relationship with Russia, calling it a "tremendous blot on their record if they did that."
"I think it's a disgrace that information would be let out. I saw the information, I read the information outside of that meeting," he said, a reference to a classified briefing he received from intelligence leaders. "It's all fake news, it's phony stuff, it didn't happen. It was gotten by opponents of ours," Trump declared in his first news conference since late July.
Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer were defiant as they denounced reports that Russia had obtained compromising personal and financial information about the incoming president. Trump said the report never should have been released and thanked news organizations that showed restraint.
It’s an asset if Putin likes Trump
Trump said Wednesday it would be an "asset, not a liability" if he gets along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but admitted it was not a given that the pair would be allies.
“If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability, because we have a horrible relationship with Russia," Trump told a press conference - his first since winning the November presidential election. "I don't know that I'm going to get along with Vladimir Putin. I hope I do. But there's a good chance I won't," he added, in the wake of explosive allegations about his dealings with Russia and purported intelligence gathered by Moscow about him.
Trump business will pursue US deals, but not foreign ones
Donald Trump's business will continue to pursue deals in the United States, though not abroad, while he is president, and he will relinquish control of the company, according to a lawyer who worked with the Trump Organization on the plan. Trump will put his business assets in a trust and take other steps to isolate himself from his company, said the lawyer, who spoke to reporters before Trump's first news conference since his election Nov. 8. The lawyer requested anonymity to discuss details of the plan.
The move appears to contradict a previous pledge by Trump, who pledged in a tweet last month to do "no new deals" while in office. To help allay concerns about conflicts of interest, Trump will hand managerial control of his company to his two adult sons and a longtime business executive. The lawyer who advised Trump also said that the Trump Organization will appoint an ethics adviser to its management team who must approve deals that could raise concerns about conflicts.
The plan falls short of what some government ethics experts have been urging Trump to do: sell his assets and put the cash in a blind trust overseen by an independent managers, as many recent presidents have done.
Others have said that is impractical given his that selling real estate takes time and the sprawling nature of his business.
Trump has stakes in 500 companies in about 20 countries.
Trump on pharmaceutrical companies
"We have to get our drug industry coming back," he said, adding it had been "disastrous and leaving left and right." Trump also called for new bidding procedures for U.S. drug companies, saying, "They're getting away with murder (with drug prices) ... "There's very little bidding for drugs. We're the largest buyer of drugs in the world and yet we don't bid properly. We're going to start bidding and we're going to start saving billions of dollars."
Trump on military aircraft programmes
"The admirals have been fantastic, the generals have been fantastic" ... He said the F-35'S costs were "billions of dollars way over budget. "We're going to get those costs way down, and we're going to get some competition and it's going to be a beautiful thing."
Trump announced the nomination of David Shulkin as secretary of Veteran Affairs. "We're going to straighten out the VA for our veterans. I have been promising that for a long time ... We interviewed at least 100 people (for VA head), some good, some not so good ... Our veterans have been treated very unfairly."
Trump on his taxes
"I'm not going to release tax returns because, as you know, they're under audit" by the Internal Revenue Service.
US firms that send jobs abroad will pay 'major border tax'
Trump warned US companies that if they move production offshore their products will face substantial taxes when they are imported into the country.
"There will be a major border tax on these companies that are leaving and getting away with murder," he told a press conference.
Trump will not wait for negotiations with Mexico before starting wall
Trump said he will not wait for negotiations with Mexico to be completed before starting to build a wall along the two countries' border.
"I could wait about a year and a half until we finish our negotiations with Mexico which will start immediately after we get into office, but I don't want to wait."
He said his vice president-elect Mike Pence is "leading an effort to get final approvals through various agencies and through Congress for the wall to begin."
"Mexico in some form ... will reimburse us."