Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that those who spread “fake news” about US President-elect Donald Trump are “worse than prostitutes”.
The Russian leader fielded questions about the incoming US President during a news conference with his Moldovan counterpart at the Kremlin, CBS News reported.
He dismissed as a hoax a privately-prepared intelligence dossier that claimed Russian intelligence agencies had compromising material on Trump, including candid video shot at a Moscow hotel when he was there in 2013 for the filming of the Miss Universe pageant.
Putin accused the outgoing Obama administration of trying to “undermine the legitimacy” of Trump’s “convincing” election victory, suggesting it was the White House that made the dossier public.
US officials have not confirmed the details of the dossier, but they have told CBS News they believe Russia may well have collected what is known as “kompromat” on Trump. It is a widely-known and well-documented practice of Putin’s intelligence services to collect such material for blackmail.
Multiple government and intelligence officials told CBS News a week ago that an addendum to the classified intelligence report on Russia’s efforts to interfere in the US election contained unverified details of potentially compromising information that Russia has gathered on Trump.
The officials said the information originally came from a former British intelligence officer and was eventually turned over to US intelligence, as well as other government officials last year.
The Kremlin has dismissed the claims of compromising material on Trump as “a fabrication and utter nonsense.”
Russia has been blamed by President Barack Obama and myriad Democratic and Republican lawmakers — citing conclusions drawn by the US intelligence community — for hacking Democratic institutions and interfering in the American presidential election process in favor of Trump.
Putin’s government has flatly rejected the allegations of hacking, also.
Trump, who takes over as President on January 20, himself finally accepted, in his first news conference since winning the election, that Russia was likely behind the hacking of the Democrat’s servers, but has dismissed as “fake news” the claims of Russian compromising material on him.
The Russian leader said on Tuesday he hoped Trump’s presidency would allow for the normalization of US-Russian relations.