Trump calls unsubstantiated Russia allegations 'nonsense'

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NEW YORK - President-elect Donald Trump has called the new unsubstantiated allegations that Russia is in possession of personal and financial information about him as "nonsense."

Trump held his first news conference since the election Wednesday, where he was seething mad at reports by online news sources and even cable news outlets about unsubstantiated reports that the Russians had blackmailed him with compromising details of his personal life and financial background.

Trump unequivocally denied the allegations.

"A thing like that should have never been written, it should never been had and it should certainly never have been released," Trump said.

"I want to thank a lot of the news organizations here today because they looked at that nonsense that was released by maybe the intelligence agencies, who knows, but maybe the intelligence agencies, which would be a tremendous blot on their record if they in fact did that," Trump continued.

When the press wanted to ask about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The president elect veered back to the campaign bringing Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton into the conversation.

"Do you honestly believe Hilary Clinton would be tougher on Putin than me? Give me a break," Trump said.

Trump also said he has one of the best cabinets ever picked by a president.

He said the cabinet will be made up of people who know how to make deals, who are smart and successful.

Trump then lashed out at CNN, refusing to take their reporters’ questions after they broadcast stories on the Russian allegations.

Trump referred to the allegations as "fake news" on Twitter Tuesday night, a claim he reiterated this morning with reporters.

"I read the information outside of that meeting. It's all fake news. It's phony stuff. It didn't happen," Trump said.

The president-elect confirmed that he had heard about the report before it was made public, calling it "an absolute disgrace."

THE NEWS CONFERENCE MINUTE-BY-MINUTE:

4:20 p.m.

The head of the Office of Government Ethics is publicly slamming President-elect Donald Trump's plans to continue profiting from his international company while he is in the White House.

Walter Shaub took the extraordinary step of saying Trump's plan to retain a stake in the Trump Organization while his adult sons run the day-to-day operations falls short of what the OGE had advised him to do. The office counseled Trump to sell off his business assets and place the proceeds in a trust overseen by an independent manager.

Shaub says: "I wish circumstances were different and I didn't feel the need to make public remarks today. Of Trump's plan, he says: "It doesn't meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting" and that previous presidents have followed.

Shaub says he is happy to provide Trump "constructive feedback" on how to divest his business interests.

3:35 p.m.

Ivanka Trump says she'll step aside from her executive roles at the Trump Organization and her lifestyle brand, but adds she is confident both businesses will continue to "thrive."

In a post on her Facebook page Wednesday, the future first daughter said that her company will be run by the current president and a board of trustees. Her two brothers will run the Trump Organization.

Ivanka Trump is not taking a role in her father's administration. Her husband Jared Kushner will serve as a senior White House adviser.

Ivanka Trump said she will be focus on her three children as they move to Washington. But she said she is passionate about issues affecting women and girls and will seek to determine the "most impactful and appropriate ways for me to serve our country."

2:30 p.m.

The White House says President-elect Donald Trump is "deeply misguided" in his criticism of the intelligence community and its leaders.

Trump has accused intelligence agencies of leaking a report claiming that top intelligence officials told him about an unsubstantiated report that Russia had about him. The president-elect likened it to the actions of Nazi Germany.

In response, White House spokesman Josh Earnest says it's "deeply misguided for anybody, at any level, to question the integrity and motives of the patriots" who supply the nation's intelligence.

A U.S. official says top intelligence officials told Trump about the unsubstantiated report last week. The dossier contains unproven information about close coordination between Trump's inner circle and Russians. It includes details about Russian hacking into Democratic accounts as well as unproven claims about unusual sexual activities by Trump, among other allegations attributed to anonymous sources.

The Associated Press has not authenticated any of the claims.

1:15 p.m.

President-elect Donald Trump says he expects to nominate new Supreme Court justice within two weeks of inauguration.

Trump says at a news conference Wednesday: "We've met with numerous candidates. They're outstanding in every case."

The president-elect said voters supported him in part because he would nominate a conservative justice for the Supreme Court to replace Antonin Scalia. Scalia's death in early 2016 created a vacancy that was kept open as Senate Republicans blocked a hearing for Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's nominee.

Trump said he had received recommendations for nominees from the conservative and libertarian Federalist Society and Jim DeMint, a former Republican senator from South Carolina who now leads the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

Trump said that he plans to start signing bills on the Monday after the January 20 inauguration.

1:10 p.m.

President-elect Donald Trump lashed out at a reporter from CNN, refusing to take a question from him and calling his news organization and Buzzfeed "fake news."

CNN reporter Jim Acosta pushed back at Wednesday's news conference, demanding an opportunity to ask a question.

A U.S. official says top intelligence officials last week told Trump about an unsubstantiated report that Russia had compromising personal and financial information about him. The story was first reported by CNN Tuesday. Buzzfeed later published a summary of those allegations.

The summary of the allegations was separate from a classified assessment of Russia's suspected attempts to meddle in the U.S. presidential election.

Trump told Acosta, "Your organization is terrible, I'm not going to give you a question."

Acosta responded, "Mr. President-elect, that's not appropriate."

1 p.m.

Dubai's DAMAC Properties tells The Associated Press it offered deals to President-elect Donald Trump's firm worth some $2 billion, but the Trump Organization turned them down.

DAMAC spokesman Niall McLoughlin said Wednesday that it involved "a variety of different properties deals."

McLoughlin declined to be more specific, other than to say that "the discussions took place as stated in the media briefing."

Trump said Wednesday at his first news conference since his election that he had turned down the deal, offering the decision as evidence of his commitment to avoiding conflicts of interest.

DAMAC has a deal with the Trump Organization to manage and run two golf courses.

One of the courses is the Trump International Golf Club in Dubai. It is due to open in February, just after Trump is inaugurated as America's 45th president.

12:50 p.m.

President-elect Donald Trump says he'll begin negotiations with Mexico on funding his promised wall along the southern border immediately after he takes office.

Trump's team and Republicans in Congress have been discussing a plan in which American taxpayers would initially cover the costs of the wall.

Trump says that's because he wants to get it started fast.

He asks, "What's the difference? I want to get the wall started."

He adds that, "Mexico will pay for the wall, but it will be reimbursed."

Trump is also pushing back on reports that his wall could wind up becoming more of a fence.

He insists, "It's not a fence, it's a wall. We're going to build a wall."

12:35 p.m.

President-elect Donald Trump says a replacement for "Obamacare" will be offered with the confirmation of his health secretary.

Trump says at a Wednesday news conference that his plan for President Barack Obama's health care law would be "repeal and replace," adding that it would be "essentially simultaneously."

Trump called the law "a complete and total disaster" and said it was "imploding." He argued that Republicans would do doing a "tremendous service" for Democrats by replacing the law.

Trump has repeatedly said that repealing and replacing "Obamacare" was a top priority, but he has never fully explained how he planned to do it. Speaker Paul Ryan has said that the House would seek to take both steps "concurrently."

But Trump's promise to repeal and replace the health care law "essentially simultaneously," even in the same day, week or hour, is almost certainly impossible to achieve.

12:25 p.m.

Donald Trump is recommitting to plans to impose a border tax on manufacturers who shutter plants and move production abroad.

Trump says at a Wednesday news conference: "There will be a major border tax on these companies that are leaving and getting away with murder."

Border taxes may help retain jobs, but they carry the risk of increasing prices for consumers.

The president-elect has been meeting with chief executives and touting commitments by United Technologies and others to keep jobs in the United States. Such moves have done little so far to move the dial on job growth for the broader U.S. economy, although Trump stressed that he was using these deals to set a new tone that offshoring would be penalized.

Trump says: "What really is happening is the word is now out."

12:20 p.m.

Trump's lawyer says the so-called emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution does not apply to foreign payments to his company, as some ethics experts have said.

The lawyer, Sheri Dillon, says some have claimed that foreign leaders who pay for rooms and services at his various hotels across the globe would put the president-elect in violation of the clause.

Dillon says: "These people are wrong. That is not what the Constitution says."

She argues that "fair-value exchange," such as paying for a hotel room, does not run afoul of the Constitutional ban of foreign gifts or payments to the president.

Dillon says nonetheless the Trump Organization will voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments to his hotels to the U.S. Treasury.

12:05 p.m.

Ivanka Trump will not play a management role in the Trump Organization moving forward.

Trump attorney Sheri Dillon says Wednesday at a news conference that the future first daughter will have no involvement with or management authority at the family business. Ivanka Trump has been an executive vice president at the company.

Ivanka Trump is not taking an official role in her father's administration for now. But her husband, Jared Kushner, will be serving as a senior adviser, and the family is moving to Washington.

Dillon says that Ivanka Trump will be focused on getting her children settled in their new home and at their schools.

Ivanka Trump is also expected to step away from a leadership role at her own company selling clothes and jewelry

Noon

President-elect Donald Trump says that the Democratic National Committee was "totally open to be hacked" and argues that if Russian hackers had gotten anything on him they "would have released it."

At Wednesday's news conference, Trump took questions about the role he believes Russia played in the election year hacking of Democratic groups. The intelligence community says the interference was intended to help the Republican defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump said the Democratic National Committee could have "had hacking defense." He praised his future chief of staff Reince Preibus, saying he ordered such a defense at the Republican National Committee.

Trump also said that "hacking is bad," but added "look at what we learned from that hacking."

11:50 a.m.

President-elect Donald Trump says that more factories open in the industrial Midwest, highlighting his direct outreach to companies and repeating his campaign pledge to be "the greatest jobs producer that God created."

At his first news conference since his election, Trump beamed over plans by Fiat Chrysler to add 2,000 jobs at plants in Michigan and Ohio. He also noted that Ford would not be building a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico and would instead update an existing Michigan factory and add 700 jobs. Trump had called on Ford to not open a new factory in Mexico, although economic forces beyond the incoming administration's direct control such as gasoline prices also influenced the decision.

Trump said additional factory job announcements would be coming, saying, "I hope General Motors will be following."

The president-elect added that he wants to bring overseas pharmaceutical manufacturing jobs to the United States, although he plans to negotiate on the prices the government pays for medication.

11:40 a.m.

President-elect Donald Trump says he's finally settled on a candidate to lead the sprawling Veterans Affairs department.

Trump says his choice is David Shulkin, who is currently the department's undersecretary for health.

Trump made the announcement at a news conference in New York. He says Shulkin is "fantastic" and will do a "truly great job."

The president-elect focused on veterans' issues during the presidential campaign. He says veterans have been mistreated under the Obama administration and promises to straighten things out.

The VA secretary post was one of two Cabinet posts Trump still has to fill. Agriculture secretary is the other one.

11:31 a.m.

Donald Trump plans to put all his business assets in a trust and hand control of his company to his two adult sons and a longtime business executive to allay concerns about conflicts of interest.

A lawyer who worked with the Trump Organization on the plan says Trump is planning to make the change by Inauguration Day, relinquish control over the Trump Organization and isolate himself from the business.

The lawyer says the company will do no new foreign deals but can pursue domestic ones, and says that the Trump Organization will appoint an ethics adviser to its management team who must approve deals that could raise concerns about conflicts.

The lawyer spoke to reporters before Trump's news conference, the first since his Nov. 8 election, and requested anonymity to discuss details of the plan.

11:30 a.m.

Donald Trump says intelligence agencies will have a "tremendous blot on their record" if they leaked a report claiming top intelligence officials told him about an unsubstantiated report that Russia had about him.

Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer also calls a report, first published Tuesday by CNN, "outrageous" and "irresponsible."

A U.S. official says top intelligence officials told Trump about an unsubstantiated report last week.

A summary of the allegations was separate from a classified assessment of Russia's suspected attempts to meddle in the U.S. presidential election. Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed on the intelligence community's findings last week.

The dossier contains unproven information about close coordination between Trump's inner circle and Russians about hacking into Democratic accounts as well as unproven claims about unusual sexual activities by Trump among other suggestions attributed to anonymous sources. The Associated Press has not authenticated any of the claims.

ABC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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