Furious Trump rejects Russian intelligence report claims as ‘witch hunt’
President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday furiously denied US media reports that Russian intelligence has deeply compromising personal and financial information about him.
Trump rejected the media reports as a “political witch hunt” after CNN said that intelligence officials briefing him last week on allegations of Russian meddling in the US election had also given him a two-page synopsis of the unverified claims.
“FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” the president-elect tweeted.
“Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?” he added.
President Barack Obama was also briefed on the issue, CNN said.
Sex tapes, bribes and spies?
Several US media outlets published — without corroborating the contents — a 35-page dossier of memos on which the synopsis is based. This information had been circulating in Washington circles for months.
The memos describe sex videos involving prostitutes during a 2013 visit by Trump to a Moscow hotel. They also suggest Russian officials proposed lucrative deals in order to win influence over the real estate magnate.
CNN said the memos contained in the dossier were originally compiled by a former British MI-6 intelligence operative hired by other US presidential contenders to do political “opposition research” on Trump in the middle of last year.
Trump was reportedly informed of the existence of the dossier last Friday, when he received a briefing from US spy chiefs on alleged Russian interference in the presidential election.
The classified two-page synopsis also included allegations that there was a regular flow of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and Russian government intermediaries.
“If these allegations are true, allegations of coordination between Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence officials, and allegations that the Russians have compromised President-elect Trump’s independence, that would be truly shocking,” Democratic Senator Chris Coons said on CNN.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had been given the information in August, more than two months before the November 8 election, according to CNN.
Since then, CNN reported, US intelligence agencies have checked out the former British intelligence operative and his network, and found him credible enough to include some of the information in the presentation to Trump.
The existence of compromising information on Trump in Russian hands had been rumored since before the election.
The rumors gained support when then Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said in a letter to FBI Director James Comey a week before the vote: “It has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers, and the Russian government — a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information.”
Comey was one of four top officials who briefed Trump on Friday, along with the heads of the Directorate of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.
Asked in a Senate hearing Tuesday about the allegations of sustained contacts between Russia and the Trump team, Comey refused to confirm or deny that his agency was investigating such links.
US intelligence has already made the accusation that Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to tip the electoral scales in Trump’s favor by ordering a hack of Democratic Party email servers.
The Russian project, intelligence concluded, aimed first to boost the campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton with embarrassing leaked emails, and then to boost Trump once they thought he had a chance to win.
Russia dismisses ‘pulp fiction’
Responding to the reports Wednesday, Russia denied that it had gathered compromising information on Trump, saying the allegations were aimed at damaging Moscow’s relations with Washington.
“The Kremlin does not have compromising information on Trump,” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told journalists.
He called the claims a “total fake” aimed at “keeping relations (with the United States) in a state of deterioration,” instead of becoming constructive.
He also denied allegations that the Kremlin gathered compromising information on Clinton, saying that “the Kremlin does not work on gathering compromising information”.
The Kremlin spokesman described the dossier as “pulp fiction,” adding that “undoubtedly you need to react to this with a degree of humour”.
He said it showed that “there are people whipping up hysteria in order to maintain this atmosphere of a witch hunt”.