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Trump Talks Russia, Obamacare And Border Wall At News Conference

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Defiant and unyielding, President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday adamantly denied reports that Russia had obtained compromising personal and financial information about him, calling it a “tremendous blot” on the record of the intelligence community if it had released such material.

The incoming president, in his first news conference since late July, firmly pushed back on the media reports and chided news organizations for publishing the material late Tuesday night.

“I think it’s a disgrace that information would be let out. I saw the information, I read the information outside of that meeting,” he said, a reference to a classified briefing he received from intelligence leaders. “It’s all fake news, it’s phony stuff, it didn’t happen. It was gotten by opponents of ours.”

His extraordinary defense dominated a highly anticipated press conference in which the future president also discussed the Affordable Care Act, his proposed border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, his plans to disentangle himself from his sprawling global business empire and the announcement of a new Cabinet member.

Asked about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump called it “an asset, not a liability” and an improvement over what he called America’s current “horrible relationship with Russia.”

“If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks, that’s called an asset not a liability. I don’t know if I’m going to get along with Vladimir Putin, I hope I do, but there’s a good chance I won’t.”

Vice President-elect Mike Pence and incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer also denounced the reports about Russia’s influence on Trump.
“The report is not an intelligence report, plain and simple,” Spicer said. “For all the talk lately about fake news, this political witch hunt by some in the media is based on some of the most flimsy reporting and is frankly shameful and disgraceful.”

Pence said the decision by some media to publish the reports could “only be attributed to media bias” and an attempt to “demean” Trump.
Trump said the report never should have been released and thanked news organizations that showed restraint.

Trump also took questions about the role he believes Russia played in the election year hacking of Democratic groups.

He said the Democratic National Committee was “totally open to be hacked” and argued that if Russian hackers had gotten anything on him they “would have released it.”

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

On “Obamacare,” Trump said a replacement will be offered with the confirmation of his health secretary. He said his plan for President Barack Obama’s health care law would be “repeal and replace,” adding that it would be “essentially simultaneously.”

“We are going to have a healthcare that is far less expensive and far better,” Trump said.

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 also said he’ll begin negotiations with Mexico on funding his promised wall along the southern border immediately after he takes office.
The president-elect’s team and Republicans in Congress have been discussing a plan in which American taxpayers would initially cover the costs of the wall. Trump said that’s because he wants to get it started fast.

“What’s the difference? I want to get the wall started,” he said, adding that, “Mexico will pay for the wall, but it will be reimbursed.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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