Trump takes questions on jobs, Russia, Israel
PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump applauded the return of 8,000 jobs to the U.S. and hailed his transition discussions with President Barack Obama in a series of comments that amounted to the most detailed interaction he’s had with journalists since before the election.
In one of his cameos Wednesday on the front steps of his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump touted plans by a Japanese mogul to bring jobs to the United States. They could be the first of the 50,000 jobs that tech billionaire Masayoshi Son promised to create after meeting with the president-elect earlier in December.
In the grand scheme of the economy, the jobs announcement is unlikely to have a major impact. Still, it’s another example of how Trump is trying to stoke voters’ belief that he is actively fighting for their well-being.
Son is the founder and chief executive of SoftBank, one of Japan’s largest technology outfits. He owns the U.S. mobile carrier Sprint, which Trump said Wednesday would be moving 5,000 jobs “back” to the United States. Son also controls OneWeb, which Trump said would hire 3,000 workers.
It was unclear whether the president-elect was referencing the Dec. 6 commitment by Son to invest $50 billion in the United States and create 50,000 jobs.
Trump said the addition of 8,000 jobs was “because of what’s happening and the spirit and the hope.”
Still, the U.S. job market has been robust for much of 2016. Employers have added more than 2.2 million jobs over the past 12 months — a sign of economic health that predates Trump’s presidential victory.
Sprint has struggled since its 2013 acquisition by SoftBank. The carrier shed roughly 9,000 workers between 2012 and 2016, reducing its staff to 30,000, according to annual reports.
Sprint Chief Executive Marcelo Claure said in a statement that the company is “excited” to work with Trump.
“We believe it is critical for business and government to partner together to create more job opportunities in the U.S. and ensure prosperity for all Americans,” Claure said.
The Sprint jobs announcement came after tensions rose and fell Wednesday between Trump and Obama. Trump has made it clear that it didn’t sit well with him when Obama recently boasted that he would have won the election if he’d been running.
Trump appeared again later Wednesday night on the Mar-a-Lago steps, this time alongside legendary boxing entrepreneur Don King, who appeared to be one of several guests attending a dinner party. King carried about a dozen flags, including those of the U.S. and Israel; wore two big diamond necklaces, one with a pendant with the Star of David and another with the American flag; and sported a large pin featuring a picture of Trump.
With King by his side, Trump dismissed days of tense remarks by the outgoing and incoming presidents about who would win if they were to hypothetically run against each other, saying he and Obama had “a very, very good talk.”
“We talked about it and smiled about it and nobody is ever going to know because we are never going to be going against each other,” Trump said.
Earlier, he had accused Obama of throwing up “inflammatory” roadblocks during the transition of power and said his administration was treating Israel with “total disdain.”
White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Obama phoned Trump. “Today’s call, like the others since the election, was positive and focused on continuing a smooth and effective transition,” Schultz said. “The president and president-elect committed to staying in touch over the next several weeks.”
Trump also took issue with the Obama administration’s decision not to block a United Nations Security Council resolution critical of Israeli settlements.
He told reporters that Israel is being treated “very, very unfairly,” maintaining that countries that are “horrible places” never get reprimanded. He refused to directly answer a question about whether Israel should stop building settlements, saying he is “very, very strong on Israel.”
He dodged a direct response when asked about accusations that Russia hacked the U.S. election, saying computers have “complicated lives very greatly.”
“We don’t have the kind of security we need,” Trump said, adding, “Nobody knows what’s going on.” He said he believes “we have to get on with our lives.”