NEW YORK: Donald Trump attacked US intelligence agencies and the media Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) as he denied explosive allegations about his ties to Russia, despite admitting for the first time that Moscow had likely meddled in the US election.
Just over a week before he takes office, Trump said he had ceded “complete” managing control of his global property empire to his two adult sons but stopped short of making a full divestment, earning a swift rebuke from an ethics watchdog and Democratic Party opponents.
“It doesn’t meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every president in the last four decades has met,” said Walter Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics.
“He needs to get rid of his business interests and he needs to put them in what’s called a blind trust,” Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren told Bloomberg TV.
But the hour-long press conference, his first in six months, focused firmly on the unsubstantiated claims that his aides colluded with the Kremlin to win the US election, and that Russia has compromising information on Trump.
The president-elect accused CNN of being “fake news” and slammed BuzzFeed as “a failing pile of garbage” after it published a dossier with the allegedly incriminating material, drawn up by a former British intelligence agent hired to do “opposition research” on Trump.
“It’s all fake news. It’s phony stuff. It didn’t happen,” he said, referring to allegations of lurid behavior in a Moscow hotel room.
“It was a group of opponents that got together, sick people, and they put that crap together,” added the 70-year-old Republican billionaire.
He suggested it may have been released by the intelligence agencies, which would be a “tremendous blot on their record.”
“That’s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do,” added America’s incoming 45th president, explaining an earlier tweet in which he asked: “Are we living in Nazi Germany?”
Trump dodged questions about whether his campaign had contacts with Russian intelligence, instead tearing into reporters whose outlets reported on the allegations of the existence of compromising material.
“I’m not going to give you a question. You are fake news,” he told a CNN reporter, igniting a fresh raft of questions about his respect for constitutional guarantees about the free press.