When will Trump address possible conflicts of interest?

Politics

JUDY WOODRUFF: We take a broader look at the latest twists and turns in the Trump transition now with our Politics Monday team, Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

And welcome to you both. It's Monday. It's good to see you.

So, Tamara, we have some, I think, breaking news. We had expected Donald Trump this week to announce how he's going to handle all of his businesses. And what have you learned?

TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Yes, all of the entanglements and potential conflicts of interest, he was supposed to address that in a news conference on Thursday.

NPR's Domenico Montanaro has confirmed that that news conference is not happening and that now there will be an announcement, not necessarily a news conference, sometime in January.

So, for two weeks, Donald Trump had the benefit of people reporting that he was going to have a news conference to announce his conflicts of interest, and how he was going to resolve that. And now that is postponed.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Amy, I won't ask you to speculate about what is going on, because it has just broken. But it does — this is something we have been waiting to learn from Donald Trump.

AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Well, and it is something that he is asked continually. He was just asked this weekend in an interview with FOX News' Chris Wallace about how this was going to work.

And he seemed to suggest that it was going to be pretty easy, that his children will run the business, he is going to stay out of it, but his children will do it, and if his children who are doing it, then it means he personally doesn't have a vested interest in the success.

Chris Wallace pushed him on this, saying, well, you know, if your children do well, that's — for your business — that is probably helping you.

Didn't really clear up all of the potential controversies there. And this comes on top of the fact that you have a number of members now that Donald Trump has offered up as Cabinet appointments who may have their own conflicts of interest. Those are going to be addressed in hearings.

TAMARA KEITH: Well, and Donald Trump in that same interview talked about wanting his daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner to be able to do work with the administration. But then also he wants them to have some involvement with the business still.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes. Yes. And so we now wait for at least, what, three more weeks before…

(CROSSTALK)

TAMARA KEITH: January.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We don't have a date.

Well, the lead story tonight — and, Amy, I will turn to you on this — is this extraordinary situation where we now have the CIA saying flat out that the Russians interfered, tried to influence the U.S. election.

Now, they're concluding that the Russians did it in order to help Donald Trump. The FBI isn't there yet. But now you have a congressional investigation called for. This is — where are we?

AMY WALTER: It — you know, Judy, like, this is the election that will never end. Right? 2016 will continue to go on and on and on.

Look, where we are right now, you have the CIA — again, this is a document that was leaked. They haven't come out publicly, made a public statement about this, but was leaked to The Washington Post that they have determined that the Russians were involved in, not just hacking e-mails, but in trying to ensure that Donald Trump was elected.

Congressional leaders in the House and the Senate on the Republican side taking a look at this, basically, what they're saying is, they're not going as far as Donald Trump is saying, this is absolutely ridiculous, I don't believe this is possible.

They do say, this is something we need to look into, but what we're not going to do is set up a special investigation. It's going to go through normal procedure. We're not going to set up something like a 9/11 Commission, something like that to look at this.

And so what you have is the president being much more direct in pushing back, Republicans saying it is worth looking at. But they're also saying, we don't want to politicize this. And we certainly don't want to — and I think that it was Paul Ryan who said specifically that it shouldn't — we should make a clear and decisive outcome. We shouldn't cast doubt on a clear and decisive outcome of this election. In other words, let's try to look at this without politicizing this.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Tamara, should that be a question now? Does this potentially undermine the legitimacy of Donald Trump's win here?

TAMARA KEITH: So, it depends on how you talk about undermining and legitimacy.

The Obama administration is also calling for a broad review of the election hacking and hacking in past elections. But the White House is saying they don't believe that there was Election Day vote tampering. They believe that the vote is — the vote is the vote. Donald Trump will be sworn in on January 20.

But I think that the way that the Trump team has reacted to this gets at the legitimacy question. They have been, in some ways, defensive, saying that this is just — this is just the latest in a long line of things, like the recount or people pointing to the popular vote, as a way of delegitimizing an elected president-elect.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And saying the Democrats are somehow involved in this.

But it also — it points back to — I mean, Amy, you said there are now several nominees. There are going to be questions about their qualifications, their potential conflicts of interest.

But I do want to come back to that news conference, Amy, that — or — I'm sorry — the interview that Donald Trump did. We're still waiting for a Donald Trump news conference, by the way.

AMY WALTER: Since July, we have been waiting.

JUDY WOODRUFF: July.

But the interview that he did with Chris Wallace on FOX News, some interesting comments there about he doesn't believe in taking regular intelligence briefings, comments about China. We did learn a little bit more about him from that.

AMY WALTER: I think we did, although, Judy, my big takeaway from that interview was the Donald Trump that we saw on the campaign trail is the Donald Trump that we're going to see in the Oval Office.

He still believes fundamentally that he doesn't need to do things in the traditional way: Yes, there is a tradition for doing security briefings one way. I'm going to do them a different way. Yes, people said to me, don't take this phone call from Taiwan. I understand the one-China policy, but I'm also not going to let China dictate to me what I am going to do as president of the United States.

And so this posture, this attitude that we saw on the campaign trail is absolutely going to follow him right into the Oval Office.

JUDY WOODRUFF: He really is saying: I'm going do it my own way.

AMY WALTER: Right.

TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

And if you look at many of his domestic policy Cabinet appointments, or nominees, they are people in his own image. They are outsiders that are executives, or successful in business and wealthy. They are people who have said that they oppose the very work of the agencies that they have now been nominated to lead.

JUDY WOODRUFF: As so, we look at this, Amy, and we look at the — just in less than a minute now — the confirmation process coming up, there could be some contentious…

AMY WALTER: There's going to be some — very much fireworks.

JUDY WOODRUFF: … discussions, yes.

AMY WALTER: Yes.

We know that, because of the way that the rules are structured, it is going to be difficult for Democrats alone to get — to oust one of his picks. But all it takes is three or so Republicans to go against one of these nominees, and they will not be able to be confirmed.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And John McCain and some of the other senators have raised some questions.

TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Republicans, I mean.

TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

There are a handful of Republicans. Rand Paul has raised some concerns with some names that have floated. The potential exists. And even if none of them are blocked, these hearings are going to be fascinating, and they could — they could raise a lot of concerns that could dog these nominees once they go into their Cabinet positions.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Hearings, hmm, where have we heard about those before in Congress?

AMY WALTER: We are going to be watching a lot of them.

(CROSSTALK)

TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you both.

TAMARA KEITH: You're welcome.

AMY WALTER: You're welcome, Judy.

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