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12 January 2017

Donald Trump gave his press conference behind a stack of papers – but what was inside?

The President-Elect used his podium to attack CNN and Buzzfeed, and announce a new business plan. 

By Julia Rampen

Amid the dossiers, files and hacking stories surrounding Donald Trump, there is one question The Staggers wanted to know.

What was in that stack of papers?

When the golden lift doors opened, and Trump emerged like an oversized-Oompa Loompa, he declared he used to do press conferences all the time. He marched up to the podium, and began to hold forth.

Waiting next to him were several piles of pinky-brown envelopes. It seemed like they were there for a reason. What was Trump going to reveal? Would he rip one open, and hand out photos capturing Hillary Clinton with two hookers? Could he, like Mitt Romney famously did in 2012, have “binders full of women”? Or was this simply a copy of the $2bn deal from his Dubai friend that, he revealed to the waiting journalists, he had been forced to turn down at the weekend? 

Trump and his aides referred several times to a plan to separate his office from his business, but the folders that apparently contained that business plan stayed put. Nor were they opened during Trump’s rant against the media, in which he called Buzzfeed, the news organisation which published salacious allegations about him, as “sad and pathetic” and a “failing pile of garbage”.

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Perhaps Jim Acosta, a journalist from CNN, would have found out. But when he tried to ask a question, he found himself at the end of the following exchange:

Jim Acosta: Mr President-Elect, since you are attacking our news organization…

Trumo: Not you.

Acosta: Can you give us a chance?

Trump: Your organization is terrible.

The President-Elect called him “fake news” (CNN also published the allegations) and moved on.

The press conference was dismissed by commentators worldwide as “jawdropping” and “a trainwreck”. CNN asked to see the documents, but were refused. The only photos released show the pages on display to be… blank.

But who really had the last laugh? Trump is right – he does know how to do press conferences. Not content with the mysterious dossier props, the high drama and the comedy schtick, he ended his exchange with the media with the ominous words he had used again and again while hosting The Apprentice: “You’re fired.”