US spy chiefs have informed Donald Trump that Russian operatives claim to possess deeply compromising personal and financial information about him, US media reported on the eve of the president-elect's first press conference.
Trump denounced a “political witch hunt” after CNN reported that intelligence officials briefing him last week on allegations of Russian meddling in the US election had also given him a synopsis of the explosive and unverified claims.
“FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” the president-elect tweeted.
Intelligence chiefs last week presented America's incoming 45th president, as well as outgoing President Barack Obama, with a two-page synopsis on the potential embarrassment, according to CNN and The New York Times, who cited multiple unnamed US officials with direct knowledge of the meeting.
Obama delivered his farewell address as the bombshell report was reverberating in political and diplomatic circles with just 10 days to go until Trump's inauguration.
CNN gave no details of the allegations but US media outlet Buzzfeed published, without corroborating its contents, a 35-page dossier of memos on which the synopsis is based, which had been circulating in Washington for months.
The memos describe sex videos involving prostitutes filmed during a 2013 visit by Trump to a luxury Moscow hotel, supposedly as a potential means for blackmail.
They also suggest Russian officials proposed lucrative deals in order to win influence over the Republican real estate magnate.
The dossier was originally compiled by a former British MI-6 intelligence operative hired by other US presidential contenders to do political “opposition research” on Trump in the middle of last year, according to CNN.
Trump was reportedly informed of the existence of the dossier - and its salacious details - last Friday when he received a briefing from US intelligence chiefs on alleged Russian interference in the presidential election.
The classified two-page synopsis also included allegations that there was a regular flow of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and Russian government intermediaries.
“Nothing's been confirmed,” Trump senior aide Kellyanne Conway told NBC about the material. “They're all unnamed, unspoken sources.”