Trump hit with claims Russia has compromising info on him
AFP January 11, 2017, 5:34 pm TWN
WASHINGTON -- Intelligence chiefs last week presented America's incoming 45th president, as well as current President Barack Obama, with a two-page synopsis on the potential embarrassment, according to CNN and The New York Times, who cited multiple unnamed US officials with direct knowledge of the meeting.
Obama delivered his farewell address Tuesday evening as the bombshell report was reverberating in political and diplomatic circles with just 10 days to go until Trump's inauguration.
The outgoing US leader had little to add publicly to the bombshell revelations.
"You know I hadn't seen the reports, we were on the plane together, and I hadn't read the news since then and as a matter of principle and national security I don't comment on classified information," the president said in an interview with NBC News late Tuesday.
He added however that he hopes Congress and the Trump administration will continue to work toward finding answers about who is responsible for hacking scandals that have roiled American politics in recent months.
CNN gave no details of the allegations but US media outlet Buzzfeed published, without corroborating its contents, a 35-page dossier of memos on which the synopsis is based, which had been circulating in Washington for months.
The memos describe sex videos involving prostitutes filmed during a 2013 visit by 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 Republican real estate magnate.
The dossier was 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, according to CNN.
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 also included allegations that there was a regular flow of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and Russian government intermediaries.
"Nothing's been confirmed," Trump senior aide Kellyanne Conway told NBC about the material. "They're all unnamed, unspoken sources."
The incendiary allegations come on the eve of Trump's first press conference since his election -- at which he was already set to face intense scrutiny over his relationship with Russia and myriad other controversies.
The 70-year-old billionaire directly assailed Buzzfeed, re-tweeting an article that blasted the online publication for publishing the "unverifiable" dossier.
Buzzfeed said it posted the material in the interest of transparency, but its editor in chief Ben Smith acknowledged that "there is serious reason to doubt the allegations."
But Democrats were left stunned by the developments.
"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.
House Democrat Jared Polis took it further.
"If the reports of Trump being compromised are not true they must be refuted," Polis posted on Twitter. "If true he should not be president."
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