NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
President-elect Donald Trump is finally holding a press conference — 169 days after his last one and more than two months after he was elected.
But for as much as has transpired since Trump’s last formal meeting with reporters on July 27, a flurry of reports about Russia are expected to dominate when reporters gather at Trump Tower on Wednesday morning.
CNN, citing U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the briefings, reported Tuesday evening that classified documents presented last week to President Obama and Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Trump.
A short time later, BuzzFeed published full memos that served as the basis for the allegations. CNN has not reported the content of those memos.
On Wednesday morning, Trump said on Twitter that Russia had never tried to use leverage against him: “NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”
The series of events had some journalists concerned that the scheduled press conference might also be delayed following the latest reports on Trump and Russia.
“If I were Trump, not sure why I’d take questions at a press conference tomorrow,” tweeted Ian Bremmer, the author and president of the Eurasia Group, a political consulting firm.
Before Trump, every modern president-elect had held a press conference within days of his victory. Trump originally scheduled what he described as a “major news conference” last month, where he was supposed to discuss plans to avoid conflicts of interest related to his business, but his transition team postponed it only days before.
Any further delay would represent another blow to an already reeling press corps. Trump’s attacks on the news media, a hallmark of his campaign, have not slowed since his election. And besides the delay of the press conference, Trump’s team has signaled a willingness to change other traditions.
Reince Priebus, Trump’s choice for chief of staff, said last month that the incoming administration could make tweaks to the daily White House press briefings, which date back to the presidency of William McKinley.
For reporters, Wednesday’s press conference will be a rare opportunity to question Trump, who has largely kept journalists at a distance since his stunning victory in November. There has been tension between the news media and his incoming administration, prompted in part by Trump aides promising changes to the way the White House interacts with the press. Trump may be questioned on the issue.
Trump has not completely ignored the press since Election Day. He sat down for an interview with “60 Minutes” that week, and later that month met with journalists from the New York Times. (He also held off-the-record sessions with executives from media companies including CNN.)
Trump has also briefly taken questions from reporters at Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Palm Beach, Florida. This week, Trump spoke to the Times on two separate occasions.
But a lengthy press conference will allow reporters from multiple outlets to ask detailed, probing questions; it will also give Trump an opportunity to reach millions of Americans watching on television.
“This news conference is important,” said Anita Kumar, the White House correspondent for McClatchy, who will be in attendance on Wednesday. “He has spoken to us briefly here and there but not in-depth.”
“I think it’s important for an independent media to ask him questions and hold him accountable for his actions,” she added.
Trump relished press conferences during his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. He held them regularly, sometimes even after a primary victory, and consistently made news with brash statements aimed at his GOP rivals and media outlets.
Trump and his team even used to mock Hillary Clinton for avoiding a press conference.
“She is so protected. They are so protecting her,” Trump said in August. “She hasn’t had a news conference in, like, 250 days.”
Clinton eventually held one in September.