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Trump: 'It's a disgrace'

UPDATE: 9:05 a.m.

Opening his first news conference since the election, President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday responded to suggestions that U.S. intelligence agencies leaked unsubstantiated reports to the media about his relationship with Russia, calling it a "tremendous blot on their record if they did that."

"I think it's a disgrace that information would be let out. I saw the information, I read the information outside of that meeting," he said, a reference to a classified briefing he received from intelligence leaders. "It's all fake news, it's phoney stuff, it didn't happen. It was gotten by opponents of ours," Trump declared in his first news conference since late July.

Trump, Vice-President-elect Mike Pence and incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer were defiant as they denounced reports that Russia had obtained compromising personal and financial information about the incoming president. Trump said the report never should have been released and thanked news organizations that showed restraint.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press Tuesday night that intelligence officials had informed Trump last week about an unsubstantiated report that Russia had obtained compromising personal and financial information about him. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not allowed to publicly discuss the matter.

Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed on the intelligence community's findings last week, the official said.

Nine days from his inauguration as the nation's 45th president, Trump used the previously planned news conference to detail how he planned to avoid conflicts of interest related to his sprawling global business empire.

He also announced that he would nominate David Shulkin to lead Department of Veterans Affairs, elevating him from his current role as VA undersecretary.


ORIGINAL: 8:20 a.m.

Top intelligence officials last week told President-elect Donald Trump about an unsubstantiated report that Russia had compromising personal and financial information about him, a U.S. official says.

The briefing about the document was first reported by CNN. A summary of the allegations was separate from a classified assessment of Russia's suspected attempts to meddle in the U.S. presidential election. Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed on the intelligence community's findings last week.

Shortly after news reports were published about the briefing, Trump tweeted: "FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!"

And in Moscow, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin denied the report. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday dismissed it as a "complete fabrication and utter nonsense." He insisted that the Kremlin "does not engage in collecting compromising material."

A U.S. official told The Associated Press on Tuesday that intelligence officials had informed Trump about an unsubstantiated report that Russia had compromising personal and financial information about him. Trump was holding a previously scheduled news conference Wednesday to discuss his future plans regarding his role with the Trump Organization. The official who discussed the briefing by intelligence figures spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not allowed to publicly discuss the matter.

The unsubstantiated dossier on Trump was compiled by a former Western intelligence operative as part of an opposition research project originally financed by a Republican client who opposed Trump, and later funded by Democrats, according to Mother Jones, which published an article about the report in October and said the operative had turned over the report to the FBI. The New York Times reported the operative had previously worked for British intelligence. The Associated Press has not been able to substantiate the information in the dossier, which misspelled the name of Russia's largest bank.

The dossier contains unproven information about close co-ordination between Trump's inner circle and Russians about hacking into Democratic accounts as well as unproven claims about unusual sexual activities by Trump among other suggestions attributed to anonymous sources. The Associated Press has not authenticated any of the claims.



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