Ahead of his speech at the pro-Israel AIPAC conference on Monday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said at a press conference that Israel “can pay and they can pay big” to defend itself without receiving U.S. foreign aid.
Trump held the press conference in the atrium of his still-under-construction Trump International Hotel, and though he had come directly from a closed-door meeting with congressional Republicans, his initial comments were focused solely on how luxurious his hotel would be once it was completed and how it would be covered in “beautiful marble from different parts of the world.”
Trump, standing behind a “Trump Hotels” lectern, was surprised that the first question asked was not on the hotel but rather about who joined him at his secretive meeting with Republican insiders on Capitol Hill.
“That has nothing to do with this, but that's OK,” said Trump, gesturing towards the architecture he had spent the initial five minutes explaining.
Trump did not provide names of people that were at his meeting at D.C. law firm Jones Day but said that his campaign would provide a full list in the near future.
With his speech at AIPAC looming, Trump was asked numerous times for details on his policy towards Israel.
When he was asked whether Israel was included in the countries like Germany, Japan, and South Korea that Trump has said should not receive foreign aid because they can pay to defend themselves, Trump said, “I think Israel will do that also, yeah.”
“I think that Israel will—there are many countries that can pay and can pay big,” he said.
Trump reportedly walked back this comment after the press conference as he walked reporters through his hotel toward a ballroom that he earlier promised would be “by far the most luxurious ballroom in D.C.”
He also promised that his campaign would provide a list of people he would consider nominating to the Supreme Court if he were elected president and that he would pick a nominee from that list.
Trump said he had been working with the Heritage Foundation on the list of conservative justices he would consider, but did not reveal a single person that he would consider for the nomination.
Jim DeMint, the president of the Heritage Foundation, was reportedly one of the attendees at Trump's Jones Day gathering earlier in the day.
Trump surprised attendees of the event when he brought a credentialed member of the press who told Trump she was a veteran forward to the podium and offered her a job at his hotel.
“Do you mind if I do a job interview right now?” asked Trump, who then introduced her to one of his executives and said that “if we can make a good deal on a salary, she's going to probably have a job.”
The woman, who Trump said had “a great look,” was seen crying once she returned to her seat.
When Trump was done taking questions, he invited the entire room to follow him for a tour of the hotel.
Cameramen and reporters clamored to get close to Trump as he answered a series of questions from Bloomberg's Mark Halperin, who served as Trump's sherpa for the hotel tour.
Following the tour, multiple reporters could be heard questioning why they followed Trump through the active construction site.