Russia denied on Wednesday allegations that the Kremlin has collected compromising information about U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, deriding the claim as a “complete fabrication and utter nonsense.”
“This is an evident attempt to harm our bilateral ties,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow. “The Kremlin does not engage in collecting compromising information.”
Trump denounced a report circulating in U.S. media with damaging claims over his personal and professional life as a “political witch hunt” as he was set to hold his first news conference in nearly six months on Wednesday.
“FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” the president-elect tweeted on Tuesday after CNN reported intelligence officials briefed him on the claims last week.
Intelligence chiefs last week presented America’s incoming 45th president, as well as current President Barack Obama, with a two-page synopsis on the potential embarrassment, according to CNN and The New York Times, who cited multiple unnamed U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the meeting.
The outgoing U.S. leader had little to add publicly to the bombshell revelations, saying he hadn’t yet seen the media reports, as he delivered his farewell address Tuesday with 10 days to go until Trump’s inauguration.
He added however that he hopes Congress and the Trump administration will continue to work toward finding answers about who is responsible for hacking scandals that have roiled American politics in recent months.
CNN gave no details of the allegations but U.S. media outlet Buzzfeed published, without corroborating its contents, a 35-page dossier of memos on which the synopsis is based, which had been circulating in Washington for months.
The memos describe sex videos involving prostitutes filmed during a 2013 visit by Trump to a luxury Moscow hotel, supposedly as a potential means for blackmail.
They also suggest Russian officials proposed lucrative deals in order to win influence over the Republican real estate magnate.
The dossier was originally compiled by a former British MI-6 intelligence operative hired by other U.S. presidential contenders to do political “opposition research” on Trump in the middle of last year, according to CNN.
Russia is likely to take center stage when Trump will use his first news conference in nearly six months on Wednesday to lay out a plan to separate himself from his business empire to try to erase questions about potential conflicts of interest.
In his first formal session with reporters since winning the Nov. 8 election, Trump will likely face questions about his bid to warm U.S. relations with Moscow.
Trump has faced persistent questions about Russia throughout the past year given his reluctance to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin and his desire to improve U.S. relations with Moscow, including working together to defeat ISIS.
While North Korea, Syria, Iran, China, tax reform and border security could well come up at the news conference, questions about Russia are likely to dominate the session.