Ostensibly, President-Elect Donald J. Trump was there to detail how he would shield himself from potential conflicts of interest during his presidency, and he did that—or had his lawyer do it, anyway.
But a development over the prior 18 hours, an explosive (however unverified) dossier complete with salacious allegations of intrigue and bizarre sexual behavior meant there was something else on the press's mind, on his mind, on, well, America's mind.
The unconfirmed reports ran on Buzzfeed and CNN (the latter having been more careful about what it told the public), and featured damning evidence of what could most politely be described as Russian...involvement with Trump. The resulting buzz circulated over the course of Tuesday evening, so much that Trump spokesman Sean Spicer and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence saw fit to rail against a report Spicer called “outrageous,” “highly irresponsible” and a “sad and pathetic attempt to get clicks.”
"But today, we'll get back to real news," Pence said without displaying a hint of irony that fake news helped bury Trump's general election opponent in November. "To real facts. And the real progress our incoming president has already made in reviving the economy and assembling a team that will make America great again."
When he took the podium, Trump was for the most part a muted version of his rally persona, offering rambling, short-on-specifics responses to questions about his plans, railing against individual members of the media and recycling an old reality show catchphrase.
Here are some highlights to give us all a glimpse into what the next four to eight years may be like.
Trump's plausible deniability of the...er...juiciest allegation of them all:
“I'm also very much of a germaphobe, by the way. Believe me.”
That bone-chilling moment (if you're a member of the press), just after he called Buzzfeed a "failing pile of garbage," when he coldly ignored requests for comment from CNN reporter Jim Acosta after calling the network "a disgrace" for reporting on the dossier:
Acosta: “Since you're attacking us, can you give us a question?...Since you're attacking our news organization...”
Trump: “Your organization is terrible.”
Trump, calling on another reporter: “She's asking a question. Don't be rude. Don't be rude...I'm not going to give you a question.”
Acosta: “Can you state categorically...”
Trump: “You are fake news.”
Acosta: “Can you state categorically... Mr. President-Elect, that's not appropriate.”
"Outlining" his proposal for repealing and replacing Obamacare (also known as the Affordable Care Act), which made us check to see whether there was a carbon monoxide leak in the room:
“Obamacare is a complete and total disaster. They can guide you any way they want to guide you. In some cases they guide you incorrectly. In most cases, you realize what's happened. It's imploding as we sit. Some states have over a hundred percent increase, and '17...is going to be the 'bad year.' It's going to be catastrophic.”
“We're going to be submitting, as soon as our secretary is approved, almost simultaneously, shortly thereafter, a plan. It'll be repeal and replace, it will be essentially simultaneously, it will be various segments, you understand, but will most likely be on the same day or the same week, but probably the same day — the same hour. So we're going to do repeal and replace, very complicated stuff, and we're going to get a health bill passed, we're going to get health care taken care of for this country.”
The famous Mexico border wall, which Mexico will totally pay for...after we pay for it first:
“We're going to build a wall. I could wait about a year and half, until we finish our negotiations with Mexico, which will start immediately after we get to office, but I don't want to wait...Mexico, in some form, will reimburse us, and they will reimburse us for the cost of the wall. That will happen, whether it's a tax, whether it's a payment, probably less likely that it's a payment, but it will happen. So remember this, okay. I would say We are going to build a wall, and people would go crazy. I would then say Who's going to pay for the wall? and people would all scream out, 25, 30,000 people, because nobody's ever had crowds like Trump has had — you know that, you don't like to report that but that's okay-okay now [the reporter who asked the question], he agrees. Finally he agrees — but I say Who's going to pay for the wall? And they will scream out: Mexico!”
Why he thinks intelligence officials' handling of the dossier is more Nazi Germany-esque than other contemporary events like his rise to power or the advent of propaganda that helped it along:
“I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful, that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. I think it's a disgrace. And I say that, and I say that. And that's something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do. I think it's a disgrace.”
And, finally, his explanation for why there was a random table stacked with manila folders next to the podium—really, just an excuse to use his favorite catchphrase:
“These papers, 'cause I'm not sure that was explained properly, but 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 job I'll say.."
Wait for it...
Wait for it...
Wait for it...