Trump takes on the media over unverified Russia report

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," January 11, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals in Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia because we have stayed away. And I have no loans with Russia. We could make deals in Russia very easily if we wanted to, I just don't want to because I think that would be a conflict.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Donald Trump, president-elect, his first news conference since July. And it got fiery at times, heated with the media for reports unsubstantiated that Russia had some details, personal information, financial information on him, that he pushed back hard on. He also went into a number of different topics about the wall in Mexico, his financial ties with his business.

Let's break down this news conference with our panel from Washington: Matt Schlapp is contributor with The Hill; Susan Page, Washington bureau chief at USA Today, and Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen. All right, James, first, an overview about this news conference in your assessment.

JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS: Aside from the hand- to-hand combat with selected members of the news media whom Mr. Trump deemed especially dishonest or irresponsible in their reporting, there was a lot of news.

We learned, for example, that the repeal and replace for Obamacare will happen, as Mr. Trump said, essentially simultaneously. We learned that we are expecting a major report on our hacking defenses within 90 days and that we should get a Supreme Court nominee within the first two weeks of the Trump presidency. So there was a lot to it substantively, quite apart from the sort of raucous flavor of the thing.

I think in all, it made good on his promise that he made when he visited the Carrier plant in Indiana in November, and he said, if it is not presidential, that's OK. That's OK. And I think he is going to redefine what it means for us to have a presidential news conference.

BAIER: I didn't invite you on here for the impression, but that's an added bonus.

Susan, the pushback from the president-elect from the transition team could not have been stronger to these reports.

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: Yes, absolutely. And a lot of criticism today by journalists of the decision by Buzzfeed to publish a salacious, unsubstantiated version of that report. Less so for CNN, though, I think because with their reports. But in any case, the pushback I met could not have been fiercer, I think. He used a four letter word in describing it as outrageous and unethical. And when the CNN reporter Jim Acosta tried to ask a question, he wouldn't let them ask a question because of criticizing organization.

So this was a situation, I think it was pretty perilous for any politician to have had a story like that come out to be dealing with it in a few hours. And he dealt with it with some real confidence and certainty. It doesn't mean that story is away, but I thought he was pretty effective in answering the questions about it just the morning after the stories had surfaced.

BAIER: Yes, 17 questions he took, Matt. And this is an indication, perhaps, of President Trump interacting with the press. We have seen him on Twitter go after different reports. This was confronting these things head on in person.

MATT SCHLAPP, THE HILL: Yes, and he likes to do this. I mean, his last press conference was quite a long time ago and he broke a lot of news in that press conference. I think some of his new handlers at the campaign said, hey, we have to stop this for a while.

But if it was up to Donald Trump, I think he would take his -- I hate to say enemies in the press -- but those who push them in the press head on. He likes to take them on. He gave his answer, by the way, he was incredibly effective in knocking down this what I really think really is an outrageous story that came out of Buzzfeed. I also think he was particularly effective in knocking back somehow Russia has got the goods on him or somehow they financed his business career. I think he knocked back those answers very effectively. I agree with James. He made a lot of news. And he is recasting what a presidential news conference is.

BAIER: And just to be clear, senior Trump transition advisor telling FOX tonight that he didn't -- he wasn't given this two page document. That was the original CNN report. They are telling us that that is not accurate, either, that it was kind of an aside, a mention.

I want to play sound bite about the split in the finances and how that is going to play.


TRUMP: I could actually run my business and run governments of the same time. I don't like the way that looks, but I would be able to do it. These papers are all just a piece of the many, many companies that are being put into trust to be run by my two sons. And I hope at the end of eight years, I'll come back and I'll say, oh, you did a good job. Otherwise, if they do a bad up, I'll say you're fired.


BAIER: His sons, James, running the company. But he is saying he's essentially pulling himself out. That is likely not going to satisfy all the critics about these ties in Washington.

ROSEN: If you are one of the Trump sons, that would probably a daunting moment to be acquainted with the idea that you could be fired as a signoff sauna from your father. Not from the business, you are fired as my son.

There are, and we have seen them in this town, some of them have been dining out in the purported Trump conflicts of interest story for three months now. Professional givers of ethics flak, and I doubt those people would have been satisfied by anything short of some kind of corporate hari- kari to the Trump Organization. But I think by most objective standards, and by the standards of the people, this will look like he went pretty far along the way to do everything he needs to do, in fact, to avoid, even the appearance of conflict of interest.

BAIER: Susan, I mean, the lawyer comes out, he steps inside, she lays out exactly what is going to happen. Any money that goes to the properties that he will still own, he will donate, he says, to the treasury. What about the appearances and the practicality of this?

PAGE: I think James is right that he took some steps, and probably at some cost to himself, maybe some pain to himself with his business empire that he has helped build.

But he didn't -- maybe it is not possible to deal with the appearance of conflict of interest that are likely to follow as his sons run his empire, which is of course, called "Trump." And it's not going to be a surprise dealing with the Trump sons that their father is the president of the United States. I think this is going to be a continuing story.

But one point that Donald Trump made today was that when the question was about, why didn't you release your tax returns, he said the only people to care about that are reporters. Voters don't care about that. If that is the case, then even if there are questions about the appearance of conflicts of interest, maybe it doesn't hurt him at least with the people who are behind him right now.

BAIER: And yet, Matt, Democrats on the Hill will likely continue to bring that up as a big problem. Is this going to somehow hinder his ability to make deals or get along with them to get things across the finish line?

SCHLAPP: Look, I think that everything he decides when he doesn't follow the normal order of things, it has to withstand public scrutiny. So along the lines of the taxes, the American people have to think that, he is not doing anything improper. When it comes to how he handles his business empire, what I am just shocked at is Obama's head of the government ethics just taking Trump on directly, saying that this is not a real plan. I listen to that press conference. We all did. It is a serious way to approach what we haven't seen before, which is a multibillionaire becoming the president of the United States with these marquee assets that you really can't liquidate and you really can't sell. It seems like a common sense plan.

But if the American voter and American people somehow think that he is profiting off the Oval Office, there will be massive negative political consequence. But I think from everything I can see, this is a new way of doing it, he is passing the test of scrutiny.

BAIER: Yes, James, quickly. It's not like he has to just get rid of some stock. I mean, he's a real estate developer.

ROSEN: No. He is putting things into a trust and he is donating the proceeds from foreign governments when they state at his hotels.

One final point I wanted to make. If you listen carefully to Mr. Trump today, the biggest enemy, so to speak, that he has in Washington from his own perspective isn't the news media, it isn't John Brennan at the CIA. It appears to be big Pharma because what he said was we have to get our drug industry back. Pharma has a lot of lobbies and a lot of lobbyists. He said they are getting away with murder. If you are a lobbyist for big Pharma on K Street tonight I don't know if you should be raising or lowering your fees right now.

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