It had been 169 days since President-elect Donald Trump – then the newly minted Republican nominee – took questions at an open news conference. On Wednesday, Trump broke the streak by hosting reporters, along with top aides, family and applauding staffers, for a wide-ranging, at times chaotic question-and-answer session.
Here’s how it unfolded, minute-by-minute. All times eastern:
10:59 a.m.: Two-minute warning given for beginning of news conference.
11:13 a.m.: Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer comes to the podium, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence at his hip, and begins speaking as Trump and three of his children, along with a group of high level staffers, look on from the wings.
11:14 a.m.: Spicer calls out and rejects the content of documents made public by Buzzfeed on Tuesday night, saying it is “outrageous and irresponsible for a left wing blog” to publish “highly salacious and flat-out false information on the internet just days before (Trump) takes the oath office.”
Spicer does not deny a CNN report that Trump and President Obama were presented classified documents that included, in a two-page synopsis, allegations that Russian operatives claim to have damaging information about Trump.
11:15 a.m.: Spicer says that Trump does not know a former campaign adviser named Carter Page. (Trump had mentioned Page by name during a March 2016 interview with the Washington Post.)
11:16 a.m.: Pence takes over from Spicer, says he is “honored to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a new president who will make America great again.” He praises Trump’s energy, twice, and touts the “caliber” of the nominees selected by the transition staff. He then attacks the press as “irresponsible” and introduces Trump.
11:19 a.m.: Trump says he “maybe” won the nomination because of his frequent news conferences.
“We stopped giving them,” he said, “because we were getting quite a bit of inaccurate news.”
11:21 a.m. Trump speaks for four minutes about the industries (auto, pharmaceutical) he has pressured or plans to and again promises to be “the greatest jobs producer that God ever created.” He also talks about all the military bands that will be at the inauguration.
11:25 a.m.: “Speaking of veterans,” Trump announces that he will appoint David Shulkin to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. Shulkin is currently the VA’s undersecretary for health.
11:28 a.m.: Trump takes his first question, refuses to confirm or deny that he was briefed on Russian claims to have embarrassing information about him. He calls the unsubstantiated, published details “crap” and the work of “sick people.”
“As far as (election season) hacking,” he continues, “I think it was Russia.”
11:32 a.m.: Asked if he would undo the actions taken against Russia put into place by the Obama administration in response to the hacks, Trump deflects and says: “If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability.”
11:33 a.m.: After another question about his activities in Russia, Trump describes telling “many people” to beware of “cameras all over the place” during his visits.
He adds: “I’m also very much of a germaphobe. Believe me.”
11:35 a.m.: “I have no loans with Russia,” Trump says. Then claims he was, over the weekend, offered $2 billion to “do a deal in Dubai with a very, very very amazing man, a great, great developer,” but turned him down. Not because he had to, but because he doesn’t want “to take advantage.”
11:37 a.m.: Trump is asked if he will release his tax returns. He says they are under audit, so he will not.
“The only ones who cares about my tax returns are reporters,” Trump tells the questioner, a statement not backed up by recent polling.
11:38 a.m.: Sheri Dillon, an attorney for Trump, steps to the podium to explain why the President-elect will formally leave his businesses but not sell off his interests.
As CNN’s Jill Disis and Jeremy Diamond report: “All of Trump’s business and financial assets will be placed into the trust before he is inaugurated January 20, said Sheri Dillon, a lawyer for Trump. But she said he will still receive reports on the overall profit of the Trump Organization, his worldwide empire.”
11:53 a.m.: Trump returns to the mic, calls Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions’ performance on Tuesday during his confirmation hearing “brilliant.” What is he hearing from many people? That his cabinet will be “one of the great cabinets ever put together.”
11:55 a.m.: Questioned about the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, Trump says he could have “waited and watched and criticized” and “let it implode” this year, but decided to act because it’s only fair to “the people.”
Of the timing of the replacement, Trump adds, it will happen “on the same day or the same week… could be the same hour.”
12:00 p.m.: On to jobs. Trump again touts the Carrier deal, calling his recent work to name and shame certain companies a statement of intent.
“The word is now out that when you want to move your plant to Mexico or some other place and you want to fire all of your workers from Michigan and Ohio and all these places that I won for good reason… not gonna happen that way anymore,” he says.
Trump adds: “We don’t have border” but “an open sieve,” and urges companies to shop state-to-state for better deals – “as long as it’s within the borders of the United States.”
12:02 p.m.: Asked how he will make Mexico pay for a “fence” on the Southern border, Trump corrects a reporter: “It’s not a fence, it’s a wall.”
He says negotiations with Mexico will begin shortly after he takes office. The country, he adds, will “in some form” reimburse the US for the cost of construction and says the “deal” will probably happen in less than 18 months.
12:05 p.m.: Trump pledges to name a Supreme Court nominee “within two weeks” of his inauguration.
12:06 p.m.: So what was Trump driving at with his Wednesday morning tweet that asked, “Are we living in Nazi Germany?” a reporter inquires.
He says that recent intelligence leaks were like something the government in Nazi Germany “would have done and did do.”
12:07 p.m.: Trump refuses to answer a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta.
12:12 p.m.: Asked by CNN’s Jeremy Diamond why he spent weeks taking shots at US intelligence before having seen their work, Trump brushed past the question and says, “I think it’s pretty sad when intelligence reports get leaked out to the press. I think it’s pretty sad.”
12:13 p.m.: Another reporter, ABC’s Cecilia Vega steps up to ask the question that Trump refused to hear from CNN’s Jim Acosta – whether the president-elect could “stand here today, once and for all, and say that no one connected to you or your campaign had any contact with Russia leading up to or during the presidential campaign?”
Trump dodges the question.
He speaks for 88 seconds – about the “respect” Russia will have for him; Chinese hackers; if his administration will “get along” with Putin (maybe); Hillary Clinton’s “reset” button – but does not say whether any of his campaign associates spoke regularly with Moscow during the election.
12:15 p.m.: And that’s a wrap.
On the way out, Trump explains that the stacks of papers and folders propped up on the table beside the podium are “all just a piece of the many, many companies that are being put into trust to be run by my two sons.”
12:16 p.m.: Trump exits stage right.