Kremlin Spokesman: Trump Understands What's FakeJan. 12, 201701:00
MOSCOW — A Kremlin spokesman is blasting U.S. intelligence reports claiming Russia is behind the election hacking as "ridiculous" and branding an unverified memo connecting Donald Trump with Moscow as "pulp fiction."
In a sit-down interview Thursday with NBC News, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov forcefully denied Russia had tried to influence the presidential election in an effort to help Trump win the White House.
The report "is a ridiculous thing, nothing else ... it does not contain any proofs, any evidence," Peskov said.
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Trump had for weeks refused to publicly accept the U.S. intelligence agencies' findings that Russia directed the hacking of Democratic National Committee computer files in order to meddle in the election. But for the first time Wednesday, Trump told reporters that he accepted that assessment.
Peskov said Trump is "definitely wrong" for changing his tune.
But Trump lambasted as "fake news" an unverified dossier, which is not an intelligence document and was widely shared online, claiming that the Russian government had compromising information about the president-elect. The dossier was written by a former British spy on behalf of Republican opponents of Trump's but was later shopped to the media by Democrats.
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Sources also have told NBC News the document had not been vetted.
When asked whether the Russian government has any information on Trump that can be used to blackmail him, Peskov said he has never seen such a file.
"I do not work in intelligence agency. I work in Kremlin," Peskov responded when pressed further. "But I can assure you that the allegations in this funny paper, in this so-called report, they are untrue. They are all fake."
Trump has branded the dossier as "fake news" and the release of it as a "political witch hunt" — which Peskov echoed on Thursday.
He lauded Trump for calling out the veracity of the explosive memo.
"We respect his readiness to try to understand what is fake and what is not," the spokesman said. "We respect his readiness to try to solve, to approach problems through dialogue, not through bold confrontation."
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At Wednesday's whirlwind news conference, Trump also suggested a warmer relationship between Russia and the U.S. is possible under his presidency, saying "if Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability."
Peskov said "the sooner is better" for Trump to speak with Putin after taking office.
Trump has previously exchanged warm words with Putin and signaled a rapprochement may be in the cards after relations worsened under the Obama administration.
President Barack Obama enforced sanctions against Russian intelligence and expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the U.S. in response to the hacking allegations.
While Russia would like to see sanctions removed, Peskov said, Moscow ultimately doesn't want to be cast as a threatening force on the world stage.
"Lots of things that's being blamed on us and our president — they're false and they're fake," Peskov said. "Think twice before saying that Russians are bad guys."