12 Jan 2017

Trump denies Russian 'leverage' amid claims of compromising material

7:47 am on 12 January 2017

US President-elect Donald Trump has reacted furiously to allegations that Russia has compromising material on him, saying Moscow "never tried to use leverage on me".

Mr Trump held a rare press conference in New York this morning.

The conference was overshadowed by claims Russia has compromising material on him.

The unsubstantiated claims said Mr Trump's presidential campaign secretly communicated with Moscow and that Russia had information about the US president-elect involving prostitutes.

Mr Trump angrily condemned US intelligence agencies for allowing the "leaking" of "fake news".

Donald Trump

Donald Trump will be sworn in as US president at midday on 20 January (6am on 21 January NZ time). Photo: AFP

Asked to explain his "Are we living in Nazi Germany?" tweet earlier on Wednesday, Mr Trump said it was "a disgrace fake news was released to the public".

He added that it was something they did in Nazi Germany.

He criticised the news outlet BuzzFeed for publishing the unsubstantiated claims, calling it a "failing pile of garbage". A heated exchange then took place as a BuzzFeed journalist pressed him, but Mr Trump refused to speak on the matter further.

Shortly before the conference came to an end, Mr Trump described America's intelligence agencies as "vital and very important".

He said he would put "some outstanding people" to run the agencies, and within 90 days they should come up with a "major report on hacking defence".

Asked again about Russia's alleged interfering in the US election, Mr Trump said President Vladimir Putin "shouldn't be doing it, he won't be doing it".

"Russia will have far greater respect for our country," he added, but ruled out any "reset buttons".

Russia has angrily denied the claims.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump speaks at his first press conference since becoming President-elect. Photo: AFP

Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, said the allegations were "pulp fiction" and a "clear attempt to damage relations".

In a series of tweets, Mr Trump said: "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!

"I win an election easily, a great "movement" is verified, and crooked opponents try to belittle our victory with FAKE NEWS. A sorry state!

"Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to "leak" into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?"

Repeal and replace

Speaking at the conference about his plan to repeal the Obamacare legislation, Mr Trump answered: "You'll be very proud of what we are going to put forward. Obamacare is a complete and total disaster."

He mentioned a "repeal and replace" plan would be implemented simultaneously.

Mr Trump said "the word was out" to US companies that wanted to move their factories outside the country. They would pay "a very large border tax".

Mr Trump reiterated his election pledge to build a "wall" on the border with Mexico.

He stressed Mexico would reimburse America's costs on the project.

Mr Trump's attorney Sheri Dillon said the president-elect had "isolated" himself from his businesses.

She said Mr Trump wanted it to be clear that he would not use his presidency for personal benefit.

Ms Dillon said there would be no foreign deals during Mr Trump's presidency at Trump Foundation, but US deals - under strict vetting - would be allowed.

Hearings for Secretary of State, Attorney General

Meanwhile, Mr Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, faces a US Senate confirmation hearing.

The former chief executive of Exxon Mobil has warned the lack of American leadership has emboldened Russia.

The Senate was also holding a second day of hearings on the nominee for Attorney General Senator Jeff Sessions.

- BBC