Trump denies claim Russian intelligence has gathered information about him

Wednesday January 11 2017

America's President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York City, the United States on January 7, 2017. PHOTO | TIMOTHY A. CLARY | AFP

President Donald Trump. His administration has applauded Kenya's peaceful poll. FILE PHOTO | TIMOTHY A. CLARY | AFP 

By AFP
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NEW YORK, Wednesday

US President-elect Donald Trump today denied a claim that Russian intelligence has gathered compromising personal and professional information about him, hours before he faces the media for the first time since his election win.

Intelligence chiefs last week presented America’s incoming 45th president, as well as current President Barack Obama, with a two-page synopsis on potentially embarrassing but unsubstantiated allegations, according to CNN and The New York Times, who cited multiple unnamed US officials with knowledge of the meeting.

The Kremlin has dismissed the dossier drawn up by a former British intelligence agent hired to do “opposition research” on Trump during the presidential campaign and published by US media outlet BuzzFeed as a “total fake” aimed at damaging bilateral ties. Trump called it more evidence of a political witch hunt to delegitimise his November victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, with nine days to go before the 70-year-old billionaire takes office.

“Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” he said on Twitter. “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?”

Trump called the situation “a sorry state”.

“I win an election easily, a great ‘movement’ is verified, and crooked opponents try to belittle our victory with FAKE NEWS,” he said.

His early morning tweets came ahead of an 11:00 am (1600 GMT) news conference at Trump Tower, his first in nearly six months.

HIS TIES

Even before the allegations surfaced widely in US media on Tuesday, reporters had been expected to grill Trump over his ties to Russia after the US intelligence community concluded Moscow interfered in the November election in a bid to tip the race in Trump’s favour.

Without corroborating its contents, BuzzFeed published a 35-page dossier of memos on which the synopsis presented to Mr Trump is based.

The memos, which had been circulating in Washington for months, describe sex videos involving prostitutes filmed during a 2013 visit by Mr Trump to a luxury Moscow hotel, supposedly as a potential means for blackmail.

They also suggest Russian officials proposed lucrative deals in order to win influence over the real estate magnate.

Mr Trump was reportedly informed of the existence of the dossier and its salacious details last Friday when he received a briefing from US intelligence chiefs on alleged Russian interference in the presidential election.

The classified two-page synopsis reportedly included allegations that there was a regular flow of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and Russian government intermediaries, which a Trump aide denied. “The Kremlin does not have compromising information on Trump,” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling journalists.