Russia Denies Having Dirt On Donald Trump After Unverified Report Was Published — REPORT
Following Donald Trump's Twitter denial, the Kremlin has spoken out on the allegations of ties between the president-elect and Russia, denying them completely. Russia said it has no compromising information on Trump and called the report a "total fabrication," The Wall Street Journal reported. The denial came from Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. According to the Associated Press, he called the report "utter nonsense" and insisted the Kremlin "does not engage in collecting compromising material."
CNN reported Tuesday that President Obama and Trump himself were briefed by intelligence officials last week on a report that alleged individuals from Trump's presidential campaign and business conspired with Russian operatives; it also claimed Russia may have compromising personal and financial information about the president-elect that could be used for blackmail. Buzzfeed then published the full report, which goes into great detail about business dealings, alleged controversial sexual acts with prostitutes, and more. None of these claims have been verified, although intelligence officials continue to investigate them.
Trump received a two-page briefing on the report on Friday — along with the larger report on Russian efforts to influence the U.S. election. It was only Tuesday, though, that they became public. The president-elect has yet to speak publicly on the matter but commented via Twitter, publishing a link to a piece criticizing Buzzfeed with the hashtag #fakenews. Also, immediately after the allegations surfaced Tuesday evening, Trump tweeted: "FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!"
The Kremlin's spokesman Peskov used the same talking points. "This is a clear attempt to damage our bilateral relations,” he said Wednesday according to Russian news agencies. “Truly, there are those who whip up this hysteria, who will break their necks to support this ‘witch hunt.’" In addition to a "witch hunt," he called the report "pulp fiction," a "total bluff, an absolute fabrication, complete nonsense."
He also denied that Russia has damaging information on Hillary Clinton — according to the leaked report, they had taped her private conversations while in Moscow. Peskov said that's not the Kremlin's M.O.:
The Kremlin does not collect compromising information. The Kremlin [and] the Russian president are engaged in building relationships with our foreign partners, firstly – in the interests of the Russian Federation, in the interests of the Russian people, secondly – in the interests of global peace, stability and security.
In addition to the president-elect's Twitter response and the Kremlin's denial, Trump's adviser Kellyanne Conway also took to the air on Late Night with Seth Meyers Tuesday night, not long after this news broke. She was a bit more specific in her defense of her boss, but it is in the same vein as the "fake news" argument. First she focused on sourcing where the info came from. "Well, guess what hasn’t happened, Seth, nobody has sourced it," Conway said on the show. "They’re all unnamed, unspoken sources in the story."
Then when Meyers tried to point out that a British intelligence official is the original source, she pivoted to how the information came out. Conway said it's a shame intelligence officials "won’t go and tell the president-elect or the president of the United States" and instead leak the information. Once again, Meyers attempted to correct her as the initial CNN report was about the president and Trump's briefing on the matter. "He has said he’s not aware of that," Conway said.
Whatever the degree to which Trump has been informed about the allegations, this is now a clear denial from both his camp and from Russia.