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In heated news conference, Trump talks health care, Russia rumors

January 11, 2017 at 6:40 PM EDT
On Wednesday, the president-elect gave his first news conference in six months, from New York. During the session, he described his intention to quickly repeal and replace Obamacare, blasted reports that Russia has compromising intelligence on him and dismissed CNN as a source of “fake news.” John Yang provides an on-the-ground perspective from Trump Tower.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The president-elect made news on a number of other fronts today.

Our John Yang was in the room this morning, and he joins us now from Trump Tower.

So, John, as we said before, it’s been a long time since Mr. Trump had had a news conference, almost six months. Before you tell us what more he said, give us a sense of the room, the scene.

JOHN YANG: It was in the lobby here of Trump Tower, the pink marble lobby of the tower.

It was standing room only. Two hours before the session began, all the seats had already been claimed, reporters, photographers, camera crews from all around the globe. And it was if there was a pent-up demand to ask questions of the president-elect.

And Mr. Trump didn’t disappoint. In addition to all the big headlines that you have already talked about, he made news on some other fronts, on Obamacare, for example. He said he wants to move quickly to repeal and replace at the same time, even though some key lawmakers of his own party say that may be hard to do.

He says he’s going to unveil his own proposal as a replacement as soon as Representative Tom Price is confirmed as his health and human services secretary.

DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: So, the easiest thing would be to let it implode in ’17. And, believe me, we’d get pretty much whatever we wanted. But it would take a long time.

We’re going to be submitting, as soon as our secretary is approved, almost simultaneously, shortly thereafter, a plan. It will be repeal and replace. It will be essentially simultaneously. It will be various segments, you understand, but will most likely be on the same day or the same week, but probably the same day.

JOHN YANG: Now, that Price nomination has run into some headwinds over questions about his selling and trading health care-related stocks while he sits on the Ways and Means Committee. Some Democrats say they want to know if he profited from insider information.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, another area where he made news had to do with filling that vacancy on the Supreme Court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia almost a year ago, during which time Republicans didn’t go along with President Obama’s nominee.

JOHN YANG: That’s right.

And folks may remember that, in September, during the campaign, Mr. Trump released a list of 21 possible nominees. He said today that he’s already begun interviewing some of those candidates, and he said he will make his nomination to fill the court vacancy within two weeks after he’s inaugurated.

JUDY WOODRUFF: John, he also spoke about the issue that really helped launch his campaign, building the border wall with Mexico.

JOHN YANG: That’s right, that signature issue of the campaign.

He said that Mexico is going to pay for it one way or another. He said he doesn’t want to wait and negotiate with Mexico about how they’re going to pick up the tab. He said he wants to start building right away. And Vice President Mike Pence is in charge of making that happen.

And then, he says, he will negotiate with Mexico on picking up the tab.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, John, he and his press spokesman had plenty to say about the press, about — in the wake of the story today about the Russian intel report on him.

JOHN YANG: That’s right, Judy. It wouldn’t be a Trump press conference without a little press bashing.

Interestingly enough, he started out by saying how glad he was to be there holding a press conference. He sounded almost nostalgic for news conferences. He even credited news conferences for winning the nomination for him.

But then things turned tense later in the session when he refused to take a question from Jim Acosta of CNN. CNN has been reporting very aggressively on this allegation that Russia has compromising information about the president-elect.

DONALD TRUMP: CNN going out of their way to build it up, it’s a disgrace.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN: Sir, since you’re attacking us, can you give us a question? Mr. President-elect…

DONALD TRUMP: Go ahead. Go ahead.

JIM ACOSTA: Mr. President-elect, since you are attacking our news organization…

DONALD TRUMP: No, not you.

JIM ACOSTA: … can you give us a chance?

DONALD TRUMP: Your organization is terrible.

JIM ACOSTA: You are attacking our news organization.

DONALD TRUMP: Your organization is terrible.

JIM ACOSTA: Can you give us a chance to ask a question, sir? Sir, can you…


Quiet. Quiet.

JIM ACOSTA: Mr. President-elect, can you say…


DONALD TRUMP: She’s asking a question. Don’t be rude. Don’t be rude.

JIM ACOSTA: Can you give us a question since you’re attacking us? Can you give us a question?

DONALD TRUMP: Don’t be rude. No, I’m not going to give you a question. I’m not going to give you a question.

JIM ACOSTA: Can you state…

DONALD TRUMP: You are fake news. Go ahead.

JIM ACOSTA: Sir, can you…

JOHN YANG: Since then, CNN has pointed out that they have refrained from reporting on the details of the alleged dossier, unlike BuzzFeed, because CNN hasn’t been able to independently verify any of the information.

But, in any case, Judy, it looks lie it’s going to be an interesting four years in the White House Briefing Room.

JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s right, John. The president-elect had strong words for both BuzzFeed and CNN.

John Yang reporting from just outside Trump Tower, thank you.