Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday January 12, 2017
Trump blasts explosive Russia reports as ‘phoney’ at wild press conference
President-elect Donald Trump angrily denied sensational claims about his relationship with Russia at his first news conference in 168 days, a wild Wednesday spectacle at which he also blasted American intelligence agencies, briefly acknowledged Russia as the culprit in hacking the Democratic party and announced a plan for his business assets that ethics experts say is unsatisfactory.
Trump spoke the day after the publication of two explosive stories about him. CNN and other outlets reported Tuesday that top intelligence officials had briefed him on the claims of Russian operatives to have compromising information on him. Later Tuesday, BuzzFeed published a dossier, compiled by a former British intelligence employee hired by Trump opponents, that included a series of detailed but unverified claims about what the material might be.
“It’s all fake news. It’s phoney stuff. It didn’t happen. And it was gotten by opponents of ours,” Trump said at Trump Tower in New York City.
The press conference was unusually chaotic. Reporters shouted to get his attention. Trump pointedly refused to accept a question from a persistent CNN reporter his team later threatened to evict if he interjected again. The event began with vice-president-elect Mike Pence and Trump spokesman Sean Spicer assailing media outlets as irresponsible and wrong; Spicer referred to BuzzFeed as a “left-wing blog.”
In the most colourful moment, the president-elect denied a claim in the dossier about Russia supposedly filming a hotel liaison between him and prostitutes. He said he had always been careful to warn his associates that they might be filmed by hidden cameras in foreign hotel rooms. He added, in denying a particular detail of the supposed encounter, “I’m also very much of a germaphobe, believe me.”
Asked about one of the most serious claims — that Trump’s team had regular contact with Russia during the campaign — he simply ignored the question and answered another. (Source: Toronto Star)