Trump denounces reports on Russian blackmail attempts, defends Putin

NEW YORK (USA TODAY) — President-elect Donald Trump denounced a purported Russian intelligence on him as “fake news” Wednesday.

“It's all fake news,. It’s phony stuff. It didn’t happen,” he said. “I read what was released, and I think it’s a disgrace. It's an absolute disgrace."

Trump spoke to more than 250 journalists in the lobby of Trump Tower Wednesday in the first full news conference since his election as president. There were enough Trump supporters in the room to provide applause.

The president-elect was introduced by incoming press secretary Sean Spicer, who denounced reports by CNN and BuzzFeed about Russian intelligence on Trump. Spicer called BuzzFeed “a left wing blog” that was hostile to Trump’s campaign, and the report was a “sad and pathetic attempt to get clicks.”

Vice President-elect Mike Pence went even further, alleging that there was a concerted effort by the media to “demean” and “delegitimize” the New York businessman.

But despite his denunciations, Trump started the his first news conference in six months by thanking many in the news media for not publishing unsubstantiated information.

He said he may owe his nomination to his frequent news conferences. “We stopped giving them because we were getting quite a bit of inaccurate news,” Trump said.

Trump spent little time on Russia during his opening statement, reserving his venom for an earlier tweet storm in which he likened the news leaks to the policies of Nazi Germany.

“Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to "leak" into the public,” he tweeted Wednesday morning. “One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

Trump continued to maintain that he would be tough on Putin while working together on world challenges.

“Do you really believe that Hillary would have been tougher on Putin than me? Does anyone really believe that? Give me a break," he said.

“If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability," Trump said.  “Russia can help us with ISIS. This administration created ISIS, by leaving at the wrong time.”

Trump denied that there was any dirt for Russian intelligence agencies to have on him, saying he tells people while traveling overseas to be on their best behavior, even in the privacy of their hotel rooms. “Be careful, because you don’t want to see yourself on television. Because there are cameras everywhere.”

“I’m also very much of a germophobe, by the way," Trump said. "Believe me.”

The president also discussed plans involving industrial policy, drug prices, and defense contracts. He vowed to be "the greatest jobs president that God ever created."

Trump also again refused to  release his tax returns, saying "as you know, they're under audit."

Reporters are the only ones interested in the tax returns, Trump added, and he did not think his refusal had any effect on the election.

"I won," Trump said as supporters in the lobby clapped and cheered. "I became president."

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USA TODAY


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