Monday, December 12, 2016

Trump: Sons Will Run Business, ‘No New Deals’ During Presidency

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump says he will speak to the press “in the near future” about his Cabinet appointments and his business, which he is leaving in the hands of his sons.

That announcement late Monday on Twitter came days before a now-postponed briefing about how he will separate himself from his business with global interests in order to focus on the presidency and avoid conflicts of interest. An aide said Monday those details will now be given sometime in January.

Trump wrote that before January 20 — the day he will be sworn in — he will leave his business under management of sons Don and Eric, as well as other executives. He further pledged “no new deals will be done” during his time in office.

What is not clear is the exact extent to which Trump will remove himself from his companies or what kinds of business actions would fall under that “no new deals” statement. Legal experts have said the only way for the president-elect to completely avoid conflicts of interest is to sell his global holdings.

Cabinet picks

Trump is continuing his process of filling out his Cabinet with ExxonMobil Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson expected to be nominated as secretary of state Tuesday morning. Several news agencies, citing transition team officials, also say former Texas Governor Rick Perry will be selected to lead the Department of Energy.

Trump has called Tillerson a “world class player and dealmaker” who knows many world leaders.

Tillerson has made oil deals with Russia and has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, which could complicate his confirmation in the Senate. Lawmakers there are investigating charges that Russia interfered in last month’s election to boost Trump’s chances of winning the White House.

FILE - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Rex W. Tillerson, April 16, 2012.

FILE – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Rex W. Tillerson, April 16, 2012.

Support for hacking inquiry

Among those endorsing the probes are Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

“The Russians are not our friends,” McConnell said. He added that the investigation should be undertaken with the idea that “the Russians do not wish us well.”

Ryan said the House probe “should not cast doubt” on Trump’s victory, but that foreign interference in a U.S. election is “entirely unacceptable” and Russian involvement “especially problematic.”

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the final stretch of the presidential campaign to help Trump win the presidency. Experts say Russians hacked the Republican and Democratic national committees’ computer systems and disclosed embarrassing emails about the Democrats through WikiLeaks.

Reid faults FBI

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is directly blaming FBI Director James Comey for the Democrats’ loss saying Comey ignored pleas to investigate Russian cyber interference.

“I am saying the FBI did nothing,” Reid told CNN television Monday. “All the information that we’ve heard in the last couple weeks, it was available to the FBI. He just ignored it. He did not make it public. We asked him more than once and he didn’t do it.”

Reid said he believes the Democrats would have won the Senate and Donald Trump would have lost the presidency if Comey had acted. Reid accused the FBI chief of breaking the decades-old precedent of not getting involved in politics.

But Trump has said it is ridiculous to think Russia interfered in the election.

“I don’t believe it. If you take a look at what [the CIA] said, there’s great confusion,” Trump told Fox News Sunday. “Nobody really knows. They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed someplace.”

He said the allegations are “just another excuse” by Democrats to explain his upset over win Hillary Clinton.

A challenge is reviewed on a ballot during a statewide presidential election recount in Waterford Township, Mich., Dec. 5, 2016.

A challenge is reviewed on a ballot during a statewide presidential election recount in Waterford Township, Mich., Dec. 5, 2016.

Recounts over

Trump’s victory was reaffirmed Monday when a recount in the midwestern state of Wisconsin confirmed his win there by more than 22,000 votes.

A federal judge stopped a recount in Pennsylvania Monday, ruling there was no credible evidence voting machines were hacked. Trump won that state by about 44,000 votes out of 6 million.

A judge had earlier halted a recount in Michigan.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein sought the recounts in the three states, saying she was not looking to overturn the results but wanted to affirm the integrity of the election system.

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