“I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out there,” Trump told a chaotic news conference only days before he takes office.
Trump called the dossier that makes salacious claims about him “fake news” and “phony stuff.” “I think it’s a disgrace … That’s something that Nazi Germany would have done.”
Trump acknowledged for the first time that Russia likely hacked the Democratic National Committee and the emails of other top Democrats during the 2016 presidential election. “I think it was Russia,” he said.
But he said other countries were also hacking the United States and defended his goal of better ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability,” Trump said.
Asked whether he had a message for Putin about hacking, Trump said he thought Moscow would have greater respect for his administration.
“He shouldn’t be doing it. He won’t be doing it,” Trump said.
The Russia dossier that emerged late on Tuesday was first reported by CNN. BuzzFeed published the full document.
Two US officials said the allegations, which one called “unsubstantiated,” were contained in a two-page memo appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election that was presented last week to Trump and to US President Barack Obama.
In the news conference, Trump declined to answer whether anyone connected to him or his campaign had contact with Moscow during the presidential campaign.
The event was a freewheeling affair, with Trump aides cheering from the sidelines at one point and the president-elect angrily refusing to take questions from a CNN reporter.
Trump’s comments on Russia were softer than those by Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for secretary of state, who was grilled on the issue by senators at his confirmation hearing.
Tillerson, the former chairman of Exxon Mobil who received an Order of Friendship award from Putin in 2012, said Moscow should be held accountable for its actions during the US election, although he declined to say whether he would support upholding Obama’s order imposing sanctions for cyber-hacking.
Trump also described how he will separate himself from his global business operations to avoid conflicts of interest once he takes office.
And he talked about how he plans to bring manufacturing jobs back from overseas plants, slamming drug companies for “getting away with murder” on pricing.
Meanwhile, CNN has defended its decision to publish “carefully sourced reporting” on the intelligence documents, saying it was “vastly different than BuzzFeed’s decision to publish unsubstantiated memos.”
CNN’s statement came after Trump called the news outlet “fake news” and refused to take a CNN reporter’s questions at his news conference.
BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti in a memo to employees on Wednesday defended the decision to publish the dossier, referring to it as a “newsworthy document.”
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