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Intel chiefs inform Trump of Russian claims
11:30 - Source: CNN
New York CNN  — 

President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday will hold his first news conference in more than five months.

Trump is expected to explain the actions he is taking to distance himself from his multibillion-dollar business to avoid conflicts of interest as President just nine days before he is sworn in.

But that won’t be the only focus of questions on Wednesday as Trump faces the press corps that will follow him to the White House for the first time since he was elected president of the United States.

Here is a selection of 10 questions for Trump’s news conference:

1. What compromising information could Russia have about you?

Top US intelligence officials provided Trump on Friday with intelligence that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about the billionaire real estate mogul and incoming President, several US officials told CNN.

The news broke just Tuesday night and Trump will be pressed to address the report for the first time on Wednesday.

The report raised concerns that if the claims are true, Russia could use the compromising information to blackmail Trump as president.

The news could also once again raise the volume of calls for Trump to release his tax returns, which he declined to do during the presidential campaign and could offer more information about his financial dealings.

2. Do you agree with the US intelligence community that Russia orchestrated the hack of Democratic groups and individuals with the goal of harming Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid?

Trump will face several questions about the hacking and release of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

The US intelligence community has now concluded that Russia was behind the hacks as part of an “influence campaign” ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. But Trump has refused to publicly back those conclusions.

Instead, Trump has spent weeks casting doubt on those conclusions, deriding the US intelligence community for its past failings and arguing that the conclusions are nothing more than a politically-motivated attempt to undermine his presidency and its legitimacy.

Still, Trump has yet to come face to face with the US intelligence community’s report – of which he received a classified briefing – which concluded the Russians acted to help him and hurt Clinton 2016 campaign.

3. President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia as a result of its cyberhacking aimed at influencing the presidential election. Will you keep those sanctions in place?

Trump has yet to say whether he would keep the recently-imposed sanctions in place once he takes office.

But his first reaction to the news of the sanctions was to praise Putin for not retaliating against the retaliatory sanctions by imposing sanctions of his own.

“Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!” Trump tweeted.

Trump’s top aide Kellyanne Conway, meanwhile, called Obama’s sanctions decision a maneuver to “box in” Trump and has most recently said that Trump “will want to make sure that our actions are proportionate what occurred, based on what we know.”

4. Why aren’t you fully divesting your business assets?

It’s still unclear exactly what steps Trump will take to disentangle himself of potential conflicts of interest, but the billionaire has been pretty clear that whatever steps he takes will stop short of full divestiture.

Trump has said that he plans to step down from his management position as head of the Trump Organization and put his two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, in charge.

But he’s said he doesn’t plan to fully divest from the company or put it in the hands of a blind trust — which means that Trump will retain a significant and potentially ethically-challenging connection to his business and properties.

Whatever Trump does announce as it relates to addressing conflicts of interest, it’s likely he’ll face questions about whether the steps he announces go far enough.

5. Is it appropriate to give your son-in-law a West Wing job as senior adviser?

The Trump transition announced Monday that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner would become one of Trump’s three most powerful advisers at the White House – a decision that will test the bounds of an anti-nepotism statute barring such hires.

The Trump team is arguing that the statue doesn’t apply to staffers in the White House Office, an argument Democrats and ethics lawyers are already questioning.

Either way, questions will remain as to whether the appointment violates the spirit of the anti-nepotism law.

6. Do you disavow…? Do you apologize…?

Since he is now President-elect, Trump could be pressed to disavow or apologize for some of his most controversial and divisive campaign rhetoric and proposals.

Trump has yet to rebuke his proposal to ban Muslims from the United States and reassure billions of Muslims around the world that they will not be barred entry on the basis of their religion.

He has not apologized for or disavowed his comments asserting that “Islam hates us.”

And he has not stepped back from his rhetoric branding undocumented Mexican immigrants criminals and “rapists” or his call for instituting surveillance of US mosques.

7. Will you work in lockstep with Republican leaders on Capitol Hill?

Trump repeatedly clashed with Republican leaders during his establishment-bashing presidential run.

And since his election, the President-elect has caught Republican leaders off guard with tweets and comments.

As House Republicans considered a measure to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, Trump set the Republican conference into a frenzy when he tweeted that they weren’t right to do so at the start of the new Congress.

And on Tuesday, Trump urged Republican leaders in an interview with the New York Times to move to immediately repeal Obamacare and replace it within weeks – a likely impossible move as Republicans on Capitol Hill continue to scramble to cobble together a replacement for the behemoth healthcare law.

8. Do you plan to keep Monica Crowley on your national security staff?

CNN’s KFile uncovered several instances of Crowley plagiarizing multiple sources in both her 2012 book and in several columns she wrote for the Washington Times.

The Trump transition has yet to indicate that the revelations have put Crowley’s job in jeopardy, but Trump himself has yet to weigh in.

9. What is your plan to defeat ISIS? And how will you change the dynamic in Syria?

Trump during the campaign signaled that he had a secret plan to defeat ISIS, but wouldn’t discuss it. He also said he would call on his incoming national security officials to offer recommendations on the fight against ISIS.

Is Trump now prepared to explain how he plans to fight ISIS? And how will he change the US role in Syria as he assumes the role of commander-in-chief?

10. Why did you suddenly reverse course on your “birther” views?

This is the question that hung in the air as Trump walked out of the ballroom in his DC hotel where he disavowed his birther views but refused to answer questions about his sudden course change.

The event had been billed as a news conference.

Trump has yet to explain why he suddenly changed views and what new evidence could have emerged since Obama releasing his birth certificate in 2011.