Thursday 14 December 2017

Trump sex tape claims are nonsense: Putin

Donald Trump. Photo: Paco Anselmi/PA Wire
Donald Trump. Photo: Paco Anselmi/PA Wire
Russian President Vladimir Putin
People take a selfie with a life-sized wax statue of US President-elect Donald Trump during an unveiling ceremony at Madrid's wax museum in Madrid, Spain

Roland Oliphant in Moscow

Donald Trump would be unlikely to have used prostitutes in Moscow because, as the patron of the Miss Universe beauty contest, he is accustomed to being around attractive women, Vladimir Putin has said.

In his first public comment on claims the Russian security services blackmailed Mr Trump with a sex tape filmed in a Moscow hotel when he visited the city in 2013, the Russian president said the story was "nonsense" and that the people behind it were "worse than prostitutes".

Claims that Russia holds kompromat, or "compromising material", on Mr Trump emerged in a dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, published by Buzzfeed last week.

The report, which was commissioned by opponents of Mr Trump in the United States, also cites highly placed sources in Russia who claim that Mr Trump gathers intelligence for the Kremlin on Russian businessmen in the United States and that his team was aware of a Russian hacking effort to smear Hillary Clinton.

Speaking at a press conference with Molodovan president Igor Dodon in the Kremlin yesterday, Mr Putin said the dossier was "an obvious fake" and ridiculed the suggestion that the Russian secret services "chase after every American billionaire".

He also suggested Mr Trump would not have fallen for a honey trap if one had been laid, asking: "He arrived here and immediately ran off to meet Moscow prostitutes?

"This is an adult and, moreover, a man who for many years has organised beauty contests. He socialised with the most beautiful women in the world. I can hardly imagine he rushed to the hotel to meet our girls of lower social responsibility - even though they are the best in the world, of course.

"We are witnessing an ongoing acute political struggle in the US, whose task is to undermine the legitimacy of the president-elect," he said. "The people doing this are doing enormous damage to American national interests."

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Earlier, Russia's foreign minister branded the former MI6 officer who authored a report a "swindler" who trades in "absurdities".

Sergei Lavrov called veteran British spy Mr Steele "some kind of runaway swindler from MI6", and his explosive report on the Russian security service's a "rude provocation".

Mr Steele, who served with the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) in Russia in the 1990s, has been in hiding since a report he wrote detailing allegations that Russia has used a sex tape to blackmail Mr Trump was published last week.

Former colleagues of Mr Steele have spoken highly of his professionalism and say he would be unlikely to file any intelligence he did not believe deserved attention.

Speaking at his annual press conference in Moscow, Mr Lavrov called the claims in the report "absurdities" and "fakes".

He also said US intelligence agencies that had tried to prove a link between Russia and Mr Trump had drawn a blank and should be fired. Mr Putin and Mr Lavrov both made clear they hope to strike a more co-operative relationship with Mr Trump than with his predecessor.

Mr Lavrov said the outgoing administration had pursued a "messianic" policy of trying to force Western values on the rest of the world, and blamed it for instability in the Middle East and other regions.

Meanwhile, a former contestant on the US version of 'The Apprentice' who accused Donald Trump of sexual assault has filed a lawsuit against him.

Summer Zervos is suing the president-elect for defamation after he dismissed her allegations as false. In the final weeks in the race for the White House, Ms Zervos was one of a number of women to make claims about the Republican billionaire's behaviour.

The ex-reality television star said she would drop the legal action if Mr Trump admitted she told the truth.

Ms Zervos told reporters yesterday: "Since Mr Trump has not issued a retraction as I requested, he has therefore left me with no alternative other than to sue him in order to vindicate my reputation."

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