Trump says intelligence chief Clapper ‘denounced false report’

Trump says intelligence chief Clapper ‘denounced false report’

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US President Donald Trump

US President-elect Donald Trump has said the director of national intelligence “denounced” a document alleging Russia has damaging information about him.

Mr Trump tweeted: “James Clapper called me yesterday to denounce the false and fictitious report that was illegally circulated. Made up, phony facts. Too bad!”

Mr Clapper said late on Wednesday that he had called Mr Trump to say that the intelligence community made no judgment on the credibility of the claims in the document and lamented that it had been made public.

He also said he told Mr Trump that he does not believe the “leaks” came from inside the intelligence community.

Mr Trump had said for the first time on Wednesday that he accepted that Russia was behind the election-year hacking of Democrats that rocked the White House race.

Speaking at his first news conference since winning the election, Mr Trump defiantly denied reports that Russia had collected compromising personal and financial information about him, lambasting the media for peddling “fake news” and shouting down a journalist from CNN, which reported on the matter. He repeated similar claims today.

His family and advisers clapped and cheered him on throughout.

Mr Trump’s transition has been overshadowed by US intelligence assessments that Russia not only meddled in the election, but did so to help him defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

After spending weeks challenging that idea, Mr Trump finally accepted at least part of the intelligence conclusions.

“As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” Mr Trump said on Wednesday, quickly adding that “other countries and other people” also hack US interests.

But he kept needling the intelligence agencies, saying it would be a “tremendous blot” on their record if officials were leaking information from his classified briefings.

Mr Clapper said in a statement later on Wednesday that he had spoken to Mr Trump on Wednesday evening and told him he does not believe any leaks came from the intelligence community.

Mr Trump has not said whether he believes Mr Clapper’s claim about the source of the leaks.

One US official told the Associated Press (AP) on Tuesday night that intelligence officials had informed Mr Trump last week about an unsubstantiated report that Russia had compromising personal and financial information about him.

Some media outlets reported on the document, which contains unproven information alleging close co-ordination between Mr Trump’s inner circle and Russians, as well as unverified claims about unusual sexual activities by Mr Trump.

The claims have not been authenticated.

Mr Clapper said on Wednesday he had told Mr Trump the intelligence community “has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable”.

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