Trump blames ‘both Democrats and Republicans’ for allegations
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.