A perturbed President-elect Donald Trump denied news reports that Russian operatives had amassed compromising personal and financial information on him, suggesting release of the material was a "tremendous blot" on the U.S. intelligence agencies.
“I think it was disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any false information that was false and fake and never happened [to be] released to the public,” Trump said. “That’s something Nazi Germany would have done.”
He said he had read a summary of the damaging dossier after a recent classified briefing from top intelligence officials.
In his first news conference in nearly six months, Trump continued his war of words with the nation's top spies over Russian attempts to interfere in the election. Notably, however, he acknowledged for the first time the Russian government had hacked the Democratic National Committee and officials with the Hillary Clinton campaign.
The long-delayed news conference was meant to assuage concerns about potential conflicts of interest between Trump’s business holdings and the presidency. A pile of legal documents that Trump said would insulate him from the business was spread on a table next to the lectern in Trump Tower.
Trump will not divest his financial stake in his sprawling business or put the assets in a blind trust, but said he will turn over its management to his sons and take additional steps to remain at arm’s length from their decisions in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety in the the White House.
“My two sons right here, Don and Eric, are going to be running the company, going to be running it in a professional manner — and they’re not going to be discussing them with me,” Trump said in his first news conference since winning the election. “I am turning over complete and total control to my sons.”
Trump lawyer Sheri Dillon said the incoming president would be completely isolated from the business, which consists of hundreds of corporate entities — to the point of receiving only a general profit-and-loss statement instead of a detailed breakdown.
"President-elect Trump should not be expected to destroy the company he built," Dillon said. She added her client had already liquidated immediately salable assets, such as stocks. His real-estate holdings will be in a trust controlled by Trump's sons.
The arrangement will also involve an ethics officer to vet any of the Trump Organization's management decisions and deals for possible conflicts with the administration. Trump already ordered all pending deals canceled, and there will be no new foreign deals made for the duration of his presidency, Dillon said.
Buzzfeed reported on details of the anti-Trump dossier, which included allegations of contacts between members of his campaign and the Russian government. The information in the opposition-research file has not been verified.
Trump called the website “a failing pile of garbage” and said it would “face the consequences” for false reporting.