Saturday 18 November 2017

Trump lashes out over leak on 'fake' dossier

US president-elect Donald Trump speaks during a press conference in Trump Tower, New York, yesterday. Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
US president-elect Donald Trump speaks during a press conference in Trump Tower, New York, yesterday. Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Harriet Alexander, David Lawler and Ruth Sherlock

Donald Trump has used his first press conference since being elected US president to lash out at the intelligence agencies for leaking details of Russia's "compromising information" on him to the media.

Mr Trump said that such leaks were "like Nazi Germany", rounding on the intelligence agencies and the media in a fiery gathering which sparked laughter and anger by turn.

On the eve of yesterday's press conference, CNN reported that intelligence agencies had warned Mr Trump in a meeting last week that the Russians had "compromising information" on his business and personal details.

Buzzfeed then went further, publishing a document which it claimed was research on the Russian spying on Mr Trump, but which Mr Trump - and many analysts - believe to be fake.

Mr Trump tweeted yesterday morning that the Buzzfeed report was false, and was furious about the suggestion that this report could be the one which came from the intelligence agencies.

Read more: 'Fake news, hidden cameras and comparisons to Nazi Germany' - Eight things we learned from Trump's first press conference since the US election

The President-elect with children Eric, Ivanka and Donald Jr. Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
The President-elect with children Eric, Ivanka and Donald Jr. Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

"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 continued on the theme in the press conference a few hours later, saying: "I think it was disgraceful - disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. That's something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do. I think it's a disgrace that information that was false and fake and never happened got released to the public."

Multiple media outlets have known about a possible dossier of embarrassing or legally dubious material, but none have yet published it.

Mr Trump clashed with a correspondent from TV news channel CNN, which thrust the document into the heart of political debate by reporting on Tuesday that intelligence officers had briefed both Mr Trump and President Barack Obama on its contents.

In an often rowdy conference lasting just over an hour, Mr Trump announced plans to:

Hand over control of the Trump Organisation to sons Donald Jr and Eric to avoid perceived conflicts of interest while he is in the White House;

Remove daughter Ivanka - whose husband Jared Kushner is a key aide - from all positions with the company;

Donate any profits from foreign governments using his hotels to the US Treasury.

He said he was taking the measures voluntarily, as the law did not require presidents to avoid conflicts of interest.

And he brushed off demands for the publication of his tax returns, saying he was unable to release them as they were under audit and that anyway, voters had demonstrated that they "don't care" about the issue when they elected him president.

He confirmed plans to repeal and replace his predecessor's 'Obamacare' health system and to build a wall along the border with Mexico, with the costs to be reimbursed by Mexico.

But the long-awaited conference was dominated by allegations about the dossier, which had been circulating in Washington for some time as media organisations, uncertain of its credibility, held back from publication.

Read more: Kremlin says it is 'total nonsense' that Russian officials have compromising dossier on Trump

In the hours before his appearance, Mr Trump issued a series of tweets in which he denounced the document - supposedly compiled by a British former intelligence agent - as "a complete and total fabrication, utter nonsense!"

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the reports were "complete fabrication and utter nonsense" and said the Russian government "does not engage in collecting compromising material".

Standing in front of a row of US flags, Mr Trump blamed the creation of the dossier on his political opponents who he said had "got together - sick people - and they put that crap together".

Some of the more lurid details of the allegations were highly improbable because he was a "germophobe" who hated uncleanliness, he said.

He was also very aware of the danger that hotel rooms may contain hidden cameras.

Mr Trump insisted Moscow had "no leverage" over him as he had "no deals, no loans, no nothing" with Russia.

He said he accepted Mr Putin's assurance that it had not been gathering information on him and hoped to enjoy good relations with Russia.

Irish Independent

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