By TAYLOR FARNSWORTH
On Jan. 10, President Barack Obama gave a heartfelt and teary-eyed farewell speech to the American people. The following day, President-Elect Donald Trump was on the defense during his first press conference since July 2016, after recent allegations leaked of ties between him and Russia.
The President-Elect talked in circles for over an hour vaguely about his plans to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, Russian hacking, his business, and the infamous wall. Not to mention the not-so-subtle remarks he made against Democrats, reporters, and Hillary Clinton throughout the entirety of the press conference.
Some of his statements were cause for continuous confusion and uncertainty of what to expect from a Trump presidency. With the inauguration taking place on Jan. 20, the American people would only hope to have had more clarity by now.
In an effort to diminish worry regarding conflicts of interest with his business and other countries during his presidency, stacks of files were laid in front of a table beside the podium during the conference. The stacks were mentioned and referenced by Trump’s lawyer, Sheri Dillon, who announced that Trump will be handing over his business to his sons, Eric and Donald Jr.
“I could actually run my business, and run government at the same time,” said Trump about why he was handing his business over to his sons, “but I don’t wanna do that.” He also claimed that he will not be discussing the business with his two sons during his time in office, saying that his sons will have “complete and total control” over the business. How accurate that statement will actually be is unknown.
But what we do know is that the president-elect still refuses to release his tax returns. “The only ones who care about my tax returns are the reporters,” said Trump after being questioned about releasing his tax returns. A recent poll from the Pew Research Center conducted this month showed that 60 percent of Americans still want Trump to release his taxes, while 33 percent claim he shouldn’t have to.
Lawmakers in Hawaii and other states, including California, Massachusetts, and New Mexico, are now working on a bill that will only allow candidates to appear on their state’s ballot who have released five years of their federal and state tax returns. This could be seen as a direct result of the president-elect not releasing his taxes, claiming it is because they are under audit, and believes that releasing them would compromise his negotiation position with the IRS. However, that does not mean he cannot release his taxes, he simply chooses not to.
Other frequently asked questions during the press conference focused primarily on Russian hacking.
“Do you honestly believe that Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me?” said Trump when asked about the recent Russian hackings. “Does anyone in this room honestly believe that? Give me a break.” It’s hard to tell if Trump will be “tougher” on Putin considering the only comment he made regarding what he would say to Putin about the topic was, “He shouldn’t be doing it, he won’t be doing it. Russia will have much greater respect for our country when I’m leading it than when other people have lead it.” The lack of explanation leaves little clarity on just how “tougher” he will be on Putin than others.
One thing is for certain: Trump refuses to acknowledge Russia’s hacking without making it a point to blame other countries as well.
“The United States is hacked by everybody,” said Trump. “That includes Russia, and China, and everybody.” But the question isn’t about “everybody,” the question is about Russia.
After over an hour of watching the television screen waiting for something of substance to come out of the president-elect’s mouth, it is no surprise as to why Trump waited months before having another press conference. Despite the hope that this would alleviate concerns regarding his business, Russia, “repeal and replace,” and other related topics, I feel as if we have only more questions than we do answers.
I can only hope future press conferences don’t end with more temper tantrums and flareups between himself and reporters, and that the American people are left with a better understanding of what exactly a Trump presidency will bring.