Trump lashes out over ‘phony’ Russia dossier claims
AFP photoU.S. President-elect Donald Trump attacked U.S. intelligence agencies and the media on Jan. 11 as he denied explosive allegations about his ties to Russia, but admitted for the first time that Moscow had likely meddled in the U.S. election.
Just over a week before he takes office, Trump said he had ceded “complete” managing control of his global property empire to his two adult sons but stopped short of making a full divestment, earning a swift rebuke from an ethics watchdog and Democratic Party opponents.
“It doesn’t meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every president in the last four decades has met,” said Walter Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics, AFP reported.
“He needs to get rid of his business interests and he needs to put them in what’s called a blind trust,” Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren told Bloomberg TV.
But the hour-long press conference, his first in six months, focused firmly on the unsubstantiated claims that his aides colluded with the Kremlin to win the U.S. election, and that Russia has compromising information on Trump.
The president-elect accused CNN of generating “fake news” and slammed BuzzFeed as “a failing pile of garbage” after it published a dossier with the allegedly incriminating material, drawn up by a former British intelligence agent hired to do “opposition research” on Trump.
“It’s all fake news. It’s phony stuff. It didn’t happen,” he said, referring to allegations of lurid behavior in a Moscow hotel room.
The 70-year old Republican billionaire suggested it may have been released by the intelligence agencies, which would be a “tremendous blot on their record.”
Trump dodged questions about whether his campaign had contacts with Russian intelligence, instead tearing into reporters whose outlets reported on the allegations of the existence of compromising material.
“I’m not going to give you a question. You are fake news,” he told a CNN reporter, igniting a fresh raft of questions about his respect for constitutional guarantees about the free press.
The U.S. intelligence community concluded Moscow interfered in the November election last year in a bid to tip the race in Trump’s favor.
But intelligence chiefs last week presented Trump, as well as President Barack Obama, with a two-page synopsis on the potentially embarrassing but unsubstantiated allegations involving Russia, according to CNN and The New York Times.
The Kremlin has dismissed the dossier as a “total fake” aimed at damaging bilateral ties.
Trump began the press conference muted and disciplined, but became increasingly agitated as questions piled up.
“I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals in Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we’ve stayed away. And I have no loans with Russia,” Trump said.
The president-elect finally admitted for the first time that he believes Moscow likely meddled in the U.S. election.