Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that those who spread “fake news” about U.S. President-elect Donald Trump are “worse than prostitutes.”
The Russian leader fielded questions about the incoming U.S. president during a news conference with his Moldovan counterpart at the Kremlin.
He dismissed as a hoax a privately-prepared intelligence dossier that claimed Russian intelligence agencies had compromising material on Mr. Trump, including candid video shot at a Moscow hotel when he was there in 2013 for the filming of the Miss Universe pageant.
Putin accused the outgoing Obama administration of trying to “undermine the legitimacy” of Mr. Trump’s “convincing” election victory, suggesting it was the White House that made the dossier public.
U.S. officials have not confirmed the details of the dossier, but they have told CBS News they believe Russia may well have collected what is known as “kompromat” on Mr. Trump. It is a widely-known and well-documented practice of Putin’s intelligence services to collect such material for blackmail.
Multiple government and intelligence officials told CBS News a week ago that an addendum to the classified intelligence report on Russia’s efforts to interfere in the U.S. election contained unverified details of potentially compromising information that Russia has gathered on Mr. Trump.
The officials said the information originally came from a former British intelligence officer and was eventually turned over to U.S. intelligence, as well as other government officials last year.
U.S. intelligence is in the process of corroborating the details of what the Russians may have, but the officials told CBS News that the former British investigator and his network are considered credible. Because the information is so sensitive, the addendum was not part of the classified report that was distributed to a wider group of people last week.
The Kremlin has dismissed the claims of compromising material on Mr. Trump as “a fabrication and utter nonsense.”
Russia has been blamed by President Obama and myriad Democratic and Republican lawmakers -- citing conclusions drawn by the U.S. intelligence community -- for hacking Democratic institutions and interfering in the American presidential election process in favor of Mr. Trump.
Putin’s government has flatly rejected the allegations of hacking, also.
Mr. Trump himself finally accepted, in his first news conference since winning the election, that Russia was likely behind the hacking of the Democrat’s servers, but has dismissed as “fake news” the claims of Russian compromising material on him.
The Russian leader said Tuesday he hoped Mr. Trump’s presidency would allow for the normalization of U.S.-Russian relations.