Trump denounces 'disgrace' of reports of Russian ties to him

Trump denounces 'disgrace' of reports of Russian ties to him
  1. Trump denounces 'disgrace' of reports of Russian ties to him
    NEW YORK - A defiant President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday adamantly denied reports that Russia had obtained compromising personal and financial information about him, calling it a "tremendous blot" on the record of the intelligence community if such material had been released. The…
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NEW YORK - A defiant President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday adamantly denied reports that Russia had obtained compromising personal and financial information about him, calling it a "tremendous blot" on the record of the intelligence community if such material had been released.

The incoming president, in his first news conference since late July, firmly chided news organizations for publishing the material late Tuesday night. Trump's extraordinary defence, just nine days before his inauguration, dominated a highly anticipated press conference in which the president-elect also announced a new Cabinet member, detailed his plans to disentangle himself from his sprawling global business empire, gave his outlook on the future of the "Obamacare" health care law and said he would soon nominate someone to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court.

FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016 file photo, President-elect Donald Trump listens to a question as he speaks to reporters at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump says he owns a "great" company but really one of the few things outsiders know for certain is that it is complex and opaque, a hodgepodge of holdings spread around the world. Trump is scheduled to discuss how he will deal with such conflicts at a news conference on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in New York. The news conference was his first as President-elect. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) President-elect Donald Trump pauses during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

"I think it's a disgrace that information would be let out. I saw the information, I read the information outside of that meeting," he said, a reference to a classified briefing he received from intelligence leaders. "It's all fake news, it's phoney stuff, it didn't happen," Trump said in a news conference that saw him repeatedly joust with reporters. "It was gotten by opponents of ours."

Asked about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump boasted that it is an improvement over what he called America's current "horrible relationship with Russia."

"If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks, that's called an asset not a liability. I don't know if I'm going to get along with Vladimir Putin — I hope I do — but there's a good chance I won't."

After weeks of scoffing at reports the Russians had hacked Democratic websites to pass along emails damaging to Hillary Clinton, he said yes, he thought Russia had hacked the Democratic National Committee.

Trump, Vice-President-elect Mike Pence and incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer denounced the reports about Russia's influence on Trump, and the incoming president said the report never should have been released. He thanked some news organizations for showing restraint.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press on Tuesday night that intelligence officials had informed Trump last week about an unsubstantiated report that Russia had obtained compromising personal and financial information about him. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not allowed to publicly discuss the matter.

Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed on the intelligence community's findings last week, the official said.

Media outlets reported on the document late Tuesday and Trump denounced it on Twitter before his news conference as "fake news," suggesting he was being persecuted for defeating other GOP presidential hopefuls and Democrat Hillary Clinton in the election.

The dossier contains unproven information about close co-ordination between Trump's inner circle and Russians about hacking into Democratic accounts as well as unproven claims about unusual sexual activities by Trump among other suggestions attributed to anonymous sources. The Associated Press has not authenticated any of the claims.

Pence said the decision by some media to publish the reports could "only be attributed to media bias" and an attempt to "demean" Trump.

Trump's first news conference since his election covered a wide range of topics.

Only days from his inauguration as the nation's 45th president, Trump announced that he would nominate David Shulkin to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, elevating him from his current role as VA undersecretary.

He promised that a replacement for the health care overhaul would be offered "essentially simultaneously" with the repeal of Obama's signature health law — something that would be virtually impossible to quickly pass given the complexity of the policy changes. Republicans agree on repealing the law but nearly seven years after its passage have faile…

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