President-elect Donald Trump is expected to grant his first press conference since his November presidential victory. It comes today at 11 a.m. in New York City, just a little more than one week before his inauguration.
Besides the press conference, this week is key for Trump, given that today is the second day of Senate hearings on his pick for Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and for Department of Homeland Security, Gen. John Kelly. In addition, Secretary of State designee Rex Tillerson will face the Senate Foreign Relations committee. In all three cases, Democrats are expected to barrage the nominees with hostile questions.
Here are some issues that the media are expected to raise at the press conference today:
Throughout the campaign, Trump promised that he would build a wall to stem the tide of illegal immigration coming from and through Mexico. There are discussions in Congress to provide funds for construction, while Mexico would be expected to later reimburse the U.S. for the costs. On January 10, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said that “there is no way” Mexico will pay for the wall. However, there are suggestions afoot that the millions of dollars sent to Mexico as remittances could be taxed in order to fund the project, which could run into billions of dollars.
Trump has accused media outlets of dishonesty when it was reported that the federal government will pay for the wall. He has clarified that Mexico would have to pay. Reporters may ask for even more clarification from Trump.
Trump has said that two of his sons, Eric and Donald Jr., will manage the Trump enterprises, and that they will not negotiate any “new deals” during the Trump years. Trump has been criticized for apparently refusing to place his company in a blind trust in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
Democrats and progressives have questioned Trump’s designation of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as a senior adviser despite federal laws forbidding nepotism. However, even Trump’s critics have admitted that those prohibitions may not apply to him as president. Yet, the media at today’s presser can be expected to bring up Trump’s worldwide business dealings, and his nominations to his administration, in any event.
From Russia with love
Democrats and the media have reported that Trump has cast doubt on intelligence agencies’ assessments that hackers backed by Russia stole emails from the Democratic National Committee, supposedly to favor his electoral victory. Even though Trump called on the country to “move on” from the purported hack (which according to FBI Director James Comey was unsuccessful in the case of the Republican National Committee), media outlets can be relied upon to move on from the issue. Yesterday, intelligence agencies briefed Trump about an outside report about supposed “compromising personal and financial information” about him.
A former British intelligence official, employed by Trump’s political opponents, produced the repor, said CNN. The media will probably pepper Trump with questions about the supposed Russian meddling in the election.
Trump’s last press conference was 168 days ago when he was still just a candidate. Relations with the press have been fraught with revelations, including a conversation he had with show host Billy Bush in which he made remarks that Democrats have labeled as advocating the sexual assault of women. However, that relationship may now change because of his status as President-elect. Observers are looking for how relations between the White House and the media will be in the coming four years. Journalists can be expected to be combative.
Trump has called Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a fiscal conservative who had demanded the simultaneous repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature legislation. The president-elect has also met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY.) to consult over legislative manuevering. Trump said he wants Congress to pass legislation replacing Obamacare “very quickly or simultaneously” after dismantling the healthcare so favored by Democrats. He said, “Long to me would be weeks…it won’t be repeal and then two years later go in with another plan,” he added.
Republicans have so far not shown coalescence around any single replacement plan that can win bipartisan support in a very divided Congress. The political press can be expected to zero in on whatever proposals Republicans or Trump may have to replace Obamacare.