Journalists Question Why Trump Postponed Press Conference On His Business Conflicts

Brian Stelter: “What Is He Hiding?”

Media figures criticized the secrecy surrounding President-elect Donald Trump's postponement of a press conference regarding his conflicts of interest arising from his business holdings.

Trump Postpones Press Conference On Conflicts Of Interests

Bloomberg Politics: “Trump Said To Postpone Announcement On Future Of Businesses.” On December 12, Bloomberg Politics reported that “President-elect Donald Trump is postponing until next month a previously announced news conference to outline how he’ll handle his far-flung business operations while in the White House, according to senior Trump transition officials”:

President-elect Donald Trump is postponing until next month a previously announced news conference to outline how he’ll handle his far-flung business operations while in the White House, according to senior Trump transition officials.

Trump had planned to make the announcement Dec. 15 but wants more time because he’s been occupied with filling out his cabinet and top administration posts, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. He said on Twitter Monday night that he’ll reveal his choice for secretary of state on Tuesday.

[...]

His businesses have been the subject of bipartisan concern since winning the election, and on Nov. 30 he said via Twitter that he would have a news conference Dec. 15 to announce his plans for dealing with potential conflicts of interest.

The president-elect tweeted that he would be leaving his business “in total” to focus on the White House. He added that “legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations,” suggesting he might not be participating in day-to-day to decisions but also didn’t necessarily suggest he was planning a sale. Among those who’ve called on him to sell his companies to avoid conflicts are the ethics lawyers for the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. Trump’s refusal to release his tax return has also added to concerns about his commitment to transparency. His next personal financial disclosure, a less detailed document, isn’t due until after he takes office. [Bloomberg Politics, 12/12/16]

Media Figures: “What Is He Hiding?”

CNN’s Brian Stelter: “What Is He Hiding? Why Doesn’t He Want To Answer Questions This Week From Reporters?” In a panel discussing Trump’s sudden cancellation of his press conference, CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter said “normally, you step out and you answer questions whether you’re elected for the first time, or whether you’ve been re-elected,” and asked “What is he hiding? Why doesn’t he want to answer questions this week from reporters?” From the December 12 edition of CNN’s Erin Burnett Outfront:

ERIN BURNETT (HOST): Is it, Brian, just about this?

BRIAN STELTER: No.

BURNETT: Or, is this about he doesn't want to have a press conference right now before the electoral college or something else? BRIAN STELTER: The question is, what is he hiding? What is he hiding? I keep asking, what is he afraid to answer? You know, this is not about, to me, not about his businesses. Most presidents-elects have a press conference a few days after being elected, that means in early or mid-November. That goes all the way back to Carter. Normally, you step out and you answer questions whether you're elected for the first time or whether you've been re-elected. It's been almost five weeks. So, what is it that he doesn't want to answer? Yes, he's given a few interviews, 60 Minutes, Fox News, and he's been tweeting, but mostly we've heard from him through Twitter, and through these rallies. We've not seen him answer a lot of questions. So, what is he hiding? Why doesn't he want to answer questions this week from reporters? [CNN, Erin Burnett Outfront, 12/12/16]

NPR’s Tamara Keith: “For Two Weeks Donald Trump Has Had The Benefit Of People Reporting That He Was Going To Have A News Conference … Now That Is Postponed.” In a December 12 segment on PBS’ PBS NewsHour, NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith noted “for two weeks Donald Trump has 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”:

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH (HOST): 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: Yes, all of the entanglements and potential conflicts of interests, 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.

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

AMY WALTER: Well, and that it's 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 it was going to be pretty easy, that his children will run the business, he's going to stay out of it, but his children will do it and if his children are doing it then it means he personally does not 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. [PBS, PBS NewsHour, 12/12/16]

MTV's Jamil Smith: “If You Don't Know How You'll Handle Your Business Ties To 20 Nations And $630M In Debt, Don't Run For President.” In a December 12 tweet, MTV senior national correspondent Jamil Smith wrote “If you don't know how you'll handle your business ties to 20 nations and $630M in debt, don't run for president” :

[Twitter, 12/12/16]

New York Times Contributor Brendan Nyhan: “Remember All The Press On How Trump Was Going To Address Conflicts Of Interest Based On A Few Tweets? Will This Get 20% Of That Coverage?” In a December 12 tweet, New York Times contributor Brendan Nyhan wrote “Remember all the press on how Trump was going to address conflicts of interest based on a few tweets? Will this get 20% of that coverage?” :

[Twitter, 12/12/16]

CNN's Don Lemon: “Is He Dodging The Press Because He Doesn’t Want To Answer Many Of These Questions, Especially About Conflicts Of Interests?” On the December 12 edition of CNN's CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, host Don Lemon asked radio host Dennis Prager if Trump was ” dodging the press because he doesn't want to answer many of these questions, especially about conflicts of interest in his business":

DON LEMON (HOST): I do want to move on to talk about Trump cancelling the press conference scheduled this week, for this week, the first one since July. Is he dodging the press because he doesn't want to answer many of these questions, especially about conflicts of interest in his business? [CNN, CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, 12/12/16]