WASHINGTON -- An angry president-elect took to a stage at Trump Tower in New York on Wednesday, furious with journalists who released a memo detailing unsubstantiated opposition research against him.
That memo, released by BuzzFeed News, alleged that Russian operatives had collected financially precarious and personally salacious information on Trump over the course of five years that might compromise the president-elect's independence. An hour before BuzzFeed published on Tuesday night, CNN reported the memo had sufficiently alarmed US intelligence agencies as to warrant their briefing both outgoing US President Barack Obama and Trump on its contents.
CNN did not report on those contents, however, despite also having access to the document, which first circulated among journalists in June. Trump on Wednesday categorically denied the veracity of the memo.
Beyond attacking the press, Trump once again targeted the intelligence community for leaking both the scheduling and contents of its classified briefings for the president-elect. It is they, Trump charged, who are responsible for leaking the inclusion of this memo of allegations in a top-level briefing last Friday.
"I think it was disgraceful– disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out there," Trump said on Wednesday. "That's something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do."
His comparison followed a comment made earlier in the morning on Twitter, in which he asked whether we are living in the Third Reich. The Anti-Defamation League has condemned the comment as "ridiculous" and offensive, and is calling on Trump to apologize for the remark.
Amid whirling scandal and accusations, Trump did accept for the first time a joint intelligence assessment first declassified by the intelligence community last week that found Russia was behind hacks of the Democratic National Committee and the staff of former Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. "I think it was Russia," he said.
Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the hack and subsequent strategic leak of that material. It similarly denied the existence of a dossier of compromising material on Trump on Wednesday morning.
Trump said his focus would be on establishing a comprehensive cyber defense strategy, and rejected criticism of his attitude toward Russia.
"If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability," he said.
Wednesday's event was Trump's first press conference in 167 days. He took the opportunity to outline his plan to disentangle from his businesses, which will now be controlled by his two sons without his involvement.
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