Trump blames ‘both Democrats and Repub­li­cans’ for al­le­ga­tions

The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - NEWS -

U.S. pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump on Fri­day ac­cused his po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents, “both Democrats and Repub­li­cans,” for putting to­gether a dossier of un­ver­i­fied claims link­ing him to Rus­sia and said the doc­u­ment was prob­a­bly re­leased by in­tel­li­gence agen­cies.

“To­tally made up facts by sleaze­bag po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tives, both Democrats and Repub­li­cans - FAKE NEWS! Rus­sia says noth­ing ex­ists,” Mr. Trump said in a se­ries of posts on Twit­ter.

“Prob­a­bly re­leased by ‘In­tel­li­gence’ even know­ing there is no proof, and never will be,” he said.

U.S. spy chief James Clap­per and Mr. Trump have given dif­fer­ent ac­counts of a phone con­ver­sa­tion they had about the dossier as Mr. Trump re­mains locked in a war of words with the in­tel­li­gence agen­cies he will com­mand days from now.

A new­comer to pol­i­tics, busi­ness­man Mr. Trump has been at odds with U.S. spy agen­cies for months, dis­put­ing their con­clu­sions that Rus­sia used hack­ing and other tac­tics to try to tilt the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in his favour.

On Wed­nes­day, he ac­knowl­edged the point but opened a new bat­tle­front, re­spond­ing to me­dia re­ports of un­sub­stan­ti­ated claims that he was caught in a com­pro­mis­ing po­si­tion in Rus­sia by ac­cus­ing in­tel­li­gence agen­cies of prac­tices rem­i­nis­cent of Nazi Ger­many.

In a state­ment, Mr. Clap­per, di­rec­tor of na­tional in­tel­li­gence, said that in a call with Mr. Trump, he ex­pressed his dis­may over me­dia leaks. Mr. Clap­per added that he did not be­lieve the leaks came from U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies.

Mr. Clap­per said he em­pha­sized to Mr. Trump that the re­port was not pro­duced by U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies and that they had not judged whether the in­for­ma­tion was re­li­able. He did not say the doc­u­ment was false.

By con­trast, Mr. Trump sug­gested in a tweet on Thurs­day that Mr. Clap­per agreed that the re­port was un­true.

“James Clap­per called me yes­ter­day to de­nounce the false and fic­ti­tious re­port that was il­le­gally cir­cu­lated. Made up, phony facts. Too bad!” Mr. Trump wrote.

Demo­cratic con­gress­man Adam Schiff, an op­po­nent of the Repub­li­can Mr. Trump, was asked by CNN on Thurs­day morn­ing about Mr. Trump’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Mr. Clap­per’s state­ment that the doc­u­ment was false.

“Sadly, you can­not rely on the pres­i­dent-elect’s tweets or state­ments about what he’s re­ceiv­ing in in­tel­li­gence brief­ings. And that’s a real prob­lem,” said Mr. chiff, the lead­ing Demo­crat on the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee.

“If peo­ple re­ally want to know what Di­rec­tor Clap­per had to say to Don­ald Trump, do not rely on Don­ald Trump’s tweets, rely on Di­rec­tor Clap­per’s state­ment.”

At a news con­fer­ence be­fore speak­ing to Mr. Clap­per, Mr. Trump ac­cused U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies of leak­ing the doc­u­ment to the me­dia.

Two U.S. of­fi­cials said the al­le­ga­tions about Mr. Trump were con­tained in a two-page memo ap­pended to a re­port on Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion given to Mr. Trump and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

CNN re­ported on Tues­day about the ex­is­tence of the memo. Buz­zFeed pub­lished a fuller 35-page doc­u­ment pro­duced by a for­mer Bri­tish for­eign in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cial that out­lined the al­le­ga­tions of com­pro­mis­ing be­hav­iour by Mr. Trump and his pur­ported ties with peo­ple in Rus­sia.

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