Russia allegations set to overshadow Trump press conference

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Unsubstantiated allegations that Russian intelligence officials have compromising information about U.S. President-elect Donald Trump are set to dominate his first news conference since winning November’s election.

The conference was to focused on how he will separate himself from his business interests, but comes amid a growing row over Trump’s ties with Russia.

More than 300 journalists had gathered in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York hours before the event was set to begin at 11 a.m. amid heightened security at the Manhattan skyscraper.

Sidewalks were blocked and businesses were closed.

A synopsis of the allegations was attached to the end of a report by U.S. intelligence agencies on Russian interference in 2016 presidential election.

“Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets calling the reports “fake news.”

He was likening them to what happened in “Nazi Germany.”

The intelligence memo is reportedly based on a separate report generated by political operatives looking into Trump’s background, but intelligence officials felt they needed to make Trump aware of the charges.

It contains unverified charges allegedly including details about Trump’s sexual activities in Russia and his financial activities, as well as claims that Trump officials met with the Russians during the campaign.

U.S. media outlets have stressed they have been unable to verify the claims and that the report contains some incorrect information.

“I have nothing to do with Russia,” Trump wrote.

Trump’s first news conference since his victory in the Nov. 8 election had originally been scheduled for Dec. 15 before being cancelled and rescheduled.

He has not held a press conference since July.

Reporters will also likely press Trump on his business interests and potential conflicts of interest and plans to take his office on Jan. 20.

This includes his demand for the repeal of President Barack Obama’s signature health insurance reforms and other policies.

More than half of Americans are concerned about Trump’s transparency in outlining his plans.

Fifty-seven per cent express concern about potential conflicts of interest in his administration, a poll released by the Pew Research Centre said.

The press conference conflicts with a confirmation hearing for Trump’s choice for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and Transportation Secretary nominee Elaine Chao. (dpa/NAN)


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