President-elect Donald Trump called the new, unsubstantiated allegations that Russia is in possession of compromising personal and financial information about him as "nonsense."
"A thing like that should have never been written, it should never been had, and it should certainly never have been released," Trump said during his first press conference since the election.
"I want to thank a lot of the news organizations here today because they looked at that nonsense that was released by maybe the intelligence agencies — who knows? But maybe the intelligence agencies, which would be a tremendous blot on their record if they in fact did that," he continued.
Trump referred to the allegations as "fake news" on Twitter Tuesday night, a claim he reiterated this morning with reporters.
"I read the information outside of that meeting. It's all fake news. It's phony stuff. It didn't happen," he said.
Trump confirmed that he heard about the report before it was made public, calling it "an absolute disgrace."
The Russia Question
The questions about the report did not stop Trump from praising Russia and President Vladimir Putin, whom he repeatedly complimented during the presidential campaign.
"If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability," he said.
He repeated his earlier statement that he doesn't have any business ties to Russia.
Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
Trump was asked about the intelligence community's consensus that Russian hackers interfered in the presidential election with the release of emails from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager.
"As far as hacking, I think it was Russia, but I also think we've been hacked by other countries, other people," he said, citing an alleged hack from China.
Trump confirmed that he believes Russia was behind the hacking but said that it will stop once he assumes office.
"He won't be doing it. Russia will have much greater respect for our country when I'm leading it than when other people have led it. You will see that. Russia will respect our country more. He shouldn't have done it," Trump said.
Back in Front of the Cameras
It had been 167 days since Trump last held a formal press conference. His transition team previously scheduled an event in December but postponed it, arguing that he needed more time to resolve potential conflicts of interest before he entered the White House.
He started the news conference by talking about how often he made such appearances during the campaign.
"I think we probably maybe won the nomination because of news conferences ... We stopped giving them because there was quite a bit of inaccurate news," Trump said.
He denounced CNN and BuzzFeed at the press conference for leading the charge on the news about the unsubstantiated dossier. He called BuzzFeed "a failing pile of garbage," adding, "I think they're going to suffer the consequences." He refused to answer a question from a CNN reporter. "Your organization is terrible," he declared and told the reporter, "Don't be rude," when he tried to shout a question.
Business Plans Announced
Trump's two oldest sons — Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump — will take control of the Trump Organization along with a longtime Trump employee, according to Sheri Dillon, who spoke at the news conference on behalf of law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius.
Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump is removing herself from the management of the company, as she and her husband, Jared Kushner, who was named as a senior adviser to Donald Trump Sr., are moving to Washington, D.C. She will be "focused on settling her children into their new homes and schools," Dillon said.
The Trump Organization will not be allowed to make any new foreign business deals, but new domestic deals will be allowed if they pass "a vigorous vetting process," said Dillon.
She defended the decision not to put the Trump Organization in a blind trust or dismantle it, saying, "President-elect Trump should not be expected to destroy the company he built."