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Trump Acknowledges Russian Hacking, Calls Reports Of Compromising Information 'Fake News'

  • Mike Eckel

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has acknowledged that Russian hackers intruded on servers of U.S. institutions, and again dismissed a classified document that purportedly details compromising information gathered on him by Russia.

Trump made the remarks at his Manhattan offices during a raucous January 11 news conference -- his first since July -- that at times raised more questions than it answered.

Trump will assume the presidency on January 20, but his election victory has been dogged by conclusions reached by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia-backed hackers broke into U.S. political-party servers and e-mail accounts in a bid to help him win the November 8 presidential election.

The news conference followed an extraordinary series of events focusing on the role that Russia may have played in influencing the election.

Those events culminated on January 10 with news reports that said a classified intelligence dossier given to President Barack Obama and Trump last week contained salacious and compromising information gathered by Russia on the Republican president-elect.

Reporters at the news conference repeatedly questioned Trump about the alleged Russian effort to compromise him, which were reportedly documented by a former British intelligence agent working for Trump's political opponents.

A summary of this purported effort was reportedly included as an annex to the classified report on Russia's alleged election meddling presented to Trump and Obama, but the British expert's claims have not been verified or corroborated by U.S. government officials.

"It's all fake news. It's phony stuff. It didn't happen," Trump said, adding that it was drafted by "sick people." He also suggested that it was intelligence agencies that were responsible for leaking the information to the media.

"I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out there," he said. "I think it's a disgrace."

"That's something that Nazi Germany would have done," he added.

Trump lashed out BuzzFeed, which published the 35-page report in its entirety, and he refused to take questions from CNN -- which described the report, but did not publish or broadcast its details -- and called the organization "fake news."

Asked by reporters what he would say to Putin about the hacking allegations, Trump responded: "He shouldn't have done it. I don't believe he will be doing it more."

The Republican was also pressed on persisting questions about whether officials with his campaign or company had any contacts with Russian intelligence officials during the election.

But Trump refused to answer those questions from reporters.

Three different Senate committees are investigating alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Under the Obama administration, ties with Russia have sunk to lows not seen since the Cold War following Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, its backing of insurgents in eastern Ukraine, its involvement in the Syrian conflict, and other issues.

For his part, Trump has repeatedly called for improving relations with Russia, arguing there are ample grounds for cooperation, such as the fight against Islamic terrorism.

At the news conference, Trump again expressed confidence he would be able to repair badly frayed ties with the Kremlin.

"I don't know if I'm going to get along with Vladimir Putin," he said. "If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability, because we have a horrible relationship with Russia."

WATCH: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said it was an "asset, not a liability" if Russian President Vladimir Putin liked him.

The Russia allegations overshadowed the original theme of the news conference, likely to be his last before the January 20 inauguration -- for Trump to highlight the efforts he's making to avoid ethical conflicts.

A billionaire real-estate developer, Trump has business holdings and assets around the world, presenting what critics and ethics experts have said is an unprecedented potential for conflicts of interest.

Trump told reporters he was giving up control of his company and putting his holdings into a trust controlled by two of his sons.

A lawyer said that Trump's company will not enter any new deals during his presidency, and that all profits generated at Trump's hotels by foreign governments will be donated to the U.S. Treasury.

Media reports say Trump has stakes in 500 companies in about 20 countries.

Later on January 11, White House spokesman Josh Earnest suggested that Trump was wrong to be critical about U.S. intelligence agencies.

It's "deeply misguided for anybody, at any level, to question the integrity and motives of the patriots who serve in our intelligence community," he said.

Earnest also suggested that Trump needed to do more to dispel questions about potential financial ties in Russia, both his and those of his relatives.

"There's ample evidence that they could marshal, to make public to refute those claims, those accusations that they say are baseless. But they refuse to do so," he said.

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