- Explainer: what’s in the Trump-Russia dossier McCain passed to the FBI?
- FBI handed dossier alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts
- The story of the dossier: secret sources, an airport rendezvous, and John McCain
- ‘Unverified, potentially unverifiable’ documents published by BuzzFeed
What does the dossier which John McCain passed to FBI chief James Comey say?
At the Tillerson hearing, meanwhile, the secretary of state nominee does not tie a US commitment to Nato allies to membership dues, as Trump has.
Tillerson just broke with Trump on NATO — said he thinks Article 5 is binding and he would not advise breaking it if allies don’t pay dues
New Jersey senator Cory Booker is testifying against Alabama senator Jeff Sessions in Sessions’ attorney general confirmation hearings. It’s unusual – precedents don’t readily come to mind – for a senator to testify against a colleague at such hearings.
Booker says Sessions hasn’t shown he’s committed to equal rights:
Booker: Sessions has not demonstrated a commitment to ‘civil rights, equal rights, and justice for all of our citizens.’
Booker: Indeed, at times Sessions has demonstrated a hostility to civil rights, equal rights, and justice.
Trump was telling the truth about the $2bn in Dubai deals he turned down at the weekend:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dubai’s DAMAC Properties confirms to AP it offered $2B in deals to Trump Organization which rejected them
The extraordinary but unverified documents published on Tuesday on Donald Trump’s ties with Moscow began life as a piece of opposition research, which has become as much a part of US politics as yard signs and coloured balloons.
There is a small industry of research and investigative firms in Washington, typically staffed by a mix of former journalists and security officials, adept at finding information about politicians that the politicians would rather stay hidden. The firms often do not know who exactly is hiring them; the request could come from a law firm acting on behalf of a client from one of the parties.
Democratic representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland releases a statement vowing congressional action to shed light on Trump’s potential conflicts of interest, given Trump’s decision not to divest from the Trump organization. “Congress must [obtain] all corporate and legal documents relating to the president-elect’s global entanglements and business dealings, including the tax returns he promised to produce to the American people,” Cummings says.
This was quite an exchange between Trump and CNN’s persistent Jim Acosta, whom Trump denied a question:
What did you think about that Trump news conference?
That question for Trump about media reform came from a Breitbart reporter, it turns out.
And now Matt Boyle asks Trump what do about fake news.
Irony is dead https://t.co/ENWGvFw40k
Trump is asked, can you say your campaign did not have contact with Russia? And what’s your message for Putin?
“Within 90 days we will be coming up with a major report on hacking defense, how do we stop this new phenomenon,” Trump says.
Trump is asked why he spent weeks undermining the intelligence community’s conclusion about Russian hacking, which he now appears to admit.
Trump is asked about the risk of weakening national security by his constantly criticizing the intelligence community.
“Intelligence agencies are vital and very very important… We’re going to be putting in some outstanding people,” Trump says.
Trump says Lindsey Graham “is a nice guy” and he’s not worried about Graham’s criticism.
“BBC News, that’s another beauty,” Trump says.
Finally, on the Nazi tweet: “I think it was disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake” to get out, Trump says. Just like Nazi Germany, he says.
“As far as Buzzfeed, which is a failing pile of garbage writing it, I think they’re going to suffer the consequences, and they already are.”
Trump is asked about his “Nazi Germany” tweet and about the border wall with Mexico and about his supreme court nominee timeline.
“We’re going to build a wall,” Trump says. “I don’t wanna wait. Mike Pence is leading an effort to get final approval… Mexico in some form will reimburse us… that will happen. Whether that’s a tax, or it’s a payment… it will happen.”
Trump says “the word is now out” that when you want to move your plant overseas and fire American workers, “not gonna happen that way anymore”.
Trump says US companies that want to sell “through what will be a very very strong border – not gonna happen. You’re going to pay a very large border tax”.
You can move from Michigan to Tennessee, from South Carolina back to Michigan – you got a lot of states at play, a lot of competition … and I don’t care as long as it’s in the United States …
There will be a major border tax on these companies that are leaving and getting away with murder.
Trump says his nominees “are doing very, very well.”
Now on Obamacare. What’s Trump saying about the timeline? What’s his plan?
Trump says Tillerson is “brilliant.” He says Sessions “was brilliant.” Trump says Sessions was “a great prosecutor and attorney general in Alabama.”
“I think we have one of the great cabinets ever put together, and we’ve heard that from so many people,” Trump says.
Dillon says Trump won’t take gifts – emoluments, as the Constitution has it – from foreign governments.
Dillon says the clause does not apply to “fair-value exchanges that have absolutely nothing to do with an office-holder.” She says emoluments don’t cover routine business transactions, like “paying for hotel rooms.”
“In sum, all of these actions – complete relinquishment of management, no foreign deals, ethics adviser approval of deals, and sharply delineated information rights” will resolve any conflict of interest, Dillon says.
Why not divest? “Selling would not eliminate conflict of interests,” Dillon says. Also selling the assets would “create a fire sale” and “selling the entire Trump organization isn’t even feasible” and Trump shouldn’t be required to liquidate his life’s work.
Dillon, the lawyer, says a trust will be created by 20 January. The trust will hold cash and perhaps an index investment and “preexisting and illiquid business assets – golf clubs, resorts, hotels, royalties, real estate”.
And the management of the Trump organization goes to Don Jr and Eric, and a third Trump executive.
“These papers are just some of the documents that I’ve signed turning over complete and total control to my sons,” Trump says, referring to his business interests.
Trump calls up a lawyer, Sheri Dillon, who describes his “massive” business “empire” which she compares to Nelson Rockefeller.
Trump says “I have no dealings” in Russia, “no loans, no current pending deals.”
“Over the weekend, I was offered $2bn to do a deal in Dubai” with “a friend of mine”. “Great guy.”
I turned it down. I didn’t have to turn it down, because as you know, I have a no-conflict situation because I’m president … Pence also has it. I don’t think he’ll need it … I have a no conflict of interest provision as president … I could actually run my business and run government at the same time. I don’t like the way that looks but I would be able to do that if I wanted to.
I’m not releasing the tax returns because they’re under audit … The only people that care about my tax returns is the reporters … I won. I became president. I think you care. First of all you learn very little from tax returns.
Trump says he has always been aware of spying in hotel rooms in countries including Russia. And he warns people he travels with specifically about small cameras.
I am extremely careful. I’m surrounded by bodyguards … I always tell them, be very careful, because … in those rooms you have cameras in the strangest places … You can’t see them and you won’t know. You better be careful or you will be watching yourself on nightly television.
Trump is asked if he accepts that Putin tried to elect him.
If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability, because we have a horrible relationship with Russia …
If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what folks, that’s called an asset, not a liability.
President Putin and Russia put out a statement today that this fake news was fake news … I respected the fact that he said that.
Trump says the DNC was vulnerable to hacking and the RNC was not thanks to chairman Reince Priebus, his incoming chief of staff.
Question time. Did Trump get the two-page summary about Russia during his intelligence briefing, and does he accept intelligence assessments that Putin hacked the DNC?
Trump: The meetings are classified. We had many witnesses in the meeting.
I think it’s a disgrace that information would be let out … it’s all fake news. It’s phony stuff, it didn’t happen. It was gotten by opponents of ours … It was a group of opponents that got together, sick people, and they got that crap together.
“By the way, speaking of veterans,” Trump has tapped David Shulkin to lead the veteran’s administration, he says. Shulkin is under-secretary for health for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
Trump moves on. He says that car companies are reversing plans to set up plants overseas. He says he hopes the pharmaceutical industry, which is “getting away with murder,” will be next.
“Pharma” has a lot of lobbyists, “a lot of power,” Trump says.
We’re going to have some competition and it’s going to be a beautiful thing.
He says thanks. He says he used to do news conference almost daily. “It’s good to be with you,” he says.
That was a guns-blazing condemnation by Spicer of the decision to publish documents claiming to detail outré Trump conduct in Russia, documents that senator John McCain saw fit to pass to the FBI.
Spicer dismissed the reports contained in the documents as wholly false and riddled with inaccuracies.
Spicer introduces vice-president-elect Mike Pence. “We are nine days away from the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States of America,” he says. He says he’s profoundly honored and humbled.
Sean Spicer, Trump’s incoming press secretary, speaks as Trump arrives with his children Ivanka, Donald Jr and Eric.
Spicer refers to the “frankly outrageous and highly irresponsible for a left-wing blog [Buzzfeed] … to drop highly salacious … information on the internet just days before he takes office.”
Trump strategist Stephen Bannon is sighted in the Trump Tower lobby in advance of the presser. The TV correspondents are at the front of the room performing their stand-ups to camera. Feels not long now.
This seems like a good guess.
Trump team so far is remaining silent on what’s in the manila folders. My bet: docs passing off control of each of his entities to his kids
Trump news conference: Now with props.
The Guardian’s Ed Pilkington is at Trump Tower for the big news conference. We have a video stream now atop the blog. Here’s another:
President-elect Trump is about to face the media for the first time since July, and the journalists crammed into the lobby of Trump Tower in Fifth Avenue, Manhattan are bracing themselves for what promises to be a feisty encounter. Trump likes to denigrate those covering him as the “crooked media”, and that was even before the incendiary events overnight.
CNN put a fuse under the press conference on Tuesday night by reporting that intelligence chiefs had informed him as well as President Obama of unsubstantiated allegations that Russian operatives claimed to have compromising information on the next US head of state. Then BuzzFeed lit the fuse by publishing the “unverified” memo on which the claims were based.
Protesters warning that “oil is dead” interrupt the Tillerson hearing. “Senators, be brave. Reject this man! Protect the vulnerable,” a protester says.
We break away momentarily from the Tillerson hearing to remind everyone that Trump is due to meet the press – for his first news conference in some six months – in about 20 minutes. He has (had) a way of starting these things late.
Tillerson is asked whether Trump agrees with him about Putin and Russia.
“The president-elect and I have not had the opportunity to discuss this specific issue, or the specific area.”
Rubio asks: Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?
“I would not use that term,” Tillerson says.
Rubio asks Tillerson whether he believes that reports of Russian tampering of the US election were accurate. Tillerson finds the intelligence reports persuasive in a way that the president-elect markedly does not.
I’ve had not classified briefings… I did read the interagency report.. that report clearly is troubling… and indicates all the actions you described were undertaken.”
Tillerson says “threats of climate change” “require a global response.”
Tillerson invokes Teddy Roosevelt’s “big stick.” “Whether you use it or not is the question,” he says.
Tough question: what would you have done about Crimea and Ukraine?
Tillerson said he would have provided air surveillance of the Ukrainian-Crimea border and done more to support Ukrainian forces.
Cardin asks Tillerson if Russia has a legitimate claim to Crimea.
“No sir. That was a taking of territory that was not theirs.”
Tillerson concludes. Corker asks him if he’ll commit to testify before the committe. Tillerson says yes. Corker dishes the mic to Cardin immediately, saying he’ll reserve his time for interjections. After Cardin is Florida senator Marco Rubio.
During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump told ABC News that Russian president Vladimir Putin was “not going to go into” Ukraine. His secretary of state nominee has just said that Russia “invaded” Ukraine.
Tillerson also makes a statement that sounds like support for US commitments to the Nato alliance in eastern Europe:
“We sent weak or mixed signals w/ “red lines” that turned into green lights. We didn’t recognize Russia does not think like we do” Tillerson
“Radical Islam poses a grave risk to the stability of nations and the well-being of their citizens.” – Rex Tillerson
Tillerson comes out as an American exceptionalist: “We are the only superpower with the means and the moral compass capable of shaping the world for good.”
But in recent years the US has “stumbled” with “actions and non-actions” that have created a “void of uncertainty,” Tillerson says.
Tillerson digs into a rather generalist opening statement.
“American leadership must not only be renewed, it must be asserted.”
After about an hour of senators talking, Tillerson is about to say something.
Tillerson introduces his wife of “more than thirty years,” Renda St Clair; his sisters and brother-in-law.
Here’s a live stream of the second day of the Jeff Sessions hearings, getting under way now:
Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, which will question Rex Tillerson this morning, has just concluded his opening statement.
Corker, a Republican, expressed confidence that Tillerson would be a good secretary of state. “My sense is” that you’ll rise to the occasion, Corker told Tillerson.
As we continue our coverage of Trump’s denial of the accuracy of pages of “sensitive information” circulated about him and his alleged secret salacious ties to Russia, we’re going to check in on the confirmation hearings of secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, which have just started. A live stream is here:
Senator John McCain has released a statement confirming that he received “sensitive information” that he passed to the FBI, as previously reported.
McCain says he was “unable to make a judgment about [the contents’] accuracy”. Here is the statement in full:
Late last year, I received sensitive information that has since been made public. Upon examination of the contents, and unable to make a judgment about their accuracy, I delivered the information to the Director of the FBI. That has been the extent of my contact with the FBI or any other government agency regarding this issue.”
That Trump press conference should get underway in a couple of hours. Security is predictably tight.
The BBC has also compiled a list of 10 questions for Trump, including these three:
Were any of your team in contact with Russian officials during the campaign?
Do you have confidence in the US intelligence services, and do you think they have confidence in you?
NBC News lists 10 questions Trump needs to answer during his press conference. The first three are on Russia:
1. After the intelligence briefing you received on Friday, you and your team released statements, fired off tweets, and conducted interviews — but never once condemned Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Why give Russia and Vladimir Putin a pass? And why more outrage directed at the victim (the DNC, John Podesta) than the perpetrator (Russia).
2. In the year and a half that you’ve either been running for office or been president-elect, you’ve criticized numerous Republicans, Democrats, and members of the media. But you’ve never once criticized Putin. Why not?
Trump’s press conference is at least two and half hours away (it’s due to start at 11am or 4pm GMT) but journalists and film crews are already gathering at Trump Tower.
Reuters rounds up Trump’s denials on Twitter, caps lock and all:
US President-elect Donald Trump said that Russia had never tried to use leverage with him and blamed intelligence agencies for news reports that Moscow had compiled compromising information on him.
In a series of Twitter posts hours before his first news conference in nearly six months, Trump accused intelligence agencies of taking “one last shot” at him by leaking the information.
Trump has now accused the intelligence agencies of allowing fake news to leak into the public domain.
Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to “leak” into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?
Yet more fury from Trump.
I win an election easily, a great “movement” is verified, and crooked opponents try to belittle our victory with FAKE NEWS. A sorry state!
Trump still hasn’t denied specific incidents in 35-page report, but says Russia says it’s “a complete and total fabrication.” pic.twitter.com/jSsKIN52l5
President-elect quoting Russia to make the case that allegations involving Russian influence are untrue https://t.co/AHwKT04RC9
More Trump Twitter denials:
Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!
President-elect Donald Trump’s spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway has described the called the allegations as “fake news”, McClatchy reports.
Conway told Seth Meyers on “Late Night” that Trump “said he’s not aware” of being briefed on reports that Russia had compromising information on him, despite a CNN report earlier that day saying he and President Barack Obama had both been presented with the information.
Donald Trump has issued a fresh denial
Russia just said the unverified report paid for by political opponents is “A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE.” Very unfair!
ProPublica’s president Richard Tofel has defended BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the unverified dossier.
He said publication will help to establish the truth of the claims in the documents.
What changed yesterday was 2 key things: we learned that US intelligence had considered the dossier impt enough to inform Trump and Obama /2
Thus the dossier became focus of public debate. What remained was whether the debaters
should be allowed to know what they were debating /4
Also, publication will likely accelerate discovery of what in dossier is true and what not. That is what we should all want. /5
The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has dismissed the dossier as “clearly bogus”.
WikiLeaks has a 100% record of accurate authentication. We do not endorse Buzzfeed’s publication of a document which is clearly bogus.
The Kremlin has ridiculed the claims it collected compromising material on Trump as unfounded and laughable, writes Alec Luhn in Moscow.
Russian state media dismissed the reports as still more unproven accusations against the country, which a report published last week by US intelligence agencies said had meddled in the 2016 presidential election to help Trump.
“Its content was like a parody of poorly constructed kompromat,” the television channel Rossiya 24 said of the reports, using a common term for compromising material. There is a long tradition in Russia of kompromat surfacing and leading to the disgrace of political figures and opposition activists.
Donald Trump is due to hold his first news conference in nearly six months later on Wednesday.
The press conference was planned before the dossier on Trump’s alleged links with Russia was published, but it is sure to be top of the agenda, according to a curtain-raiser by the New York Times.
Atop the list of likely subjects: news that Mr. Trump was briefed last week on unsubstantiated reports that Russia had collected compromising, salacious personal information about him.
Before those reports, the timing of Mr. Trump’s planned appearance had seemed deliberate. But by speaking the day after Mr. Obama’s address, he is inviting a conspicuous contrast, betting that his freewheeling style will compare favorably with the president’s preference for restraint.
Welcome to live coverage on the aftermath of the publication of explosive, but unverified, allegations that Donald Trump had secret contacts with Moscow and that Russia has enough compromising material to blackmail the president-elect.
Last month Senator John McCain passed a six month dossier of memos complied by a former MI6 counterintelligence official, to the FBI director, James Comey. It contains a series of extraordinary, and sometimes salacious, allegations that Trump has dismissed as “fake news” and a “witch hunt”.
The news website posted the unredacted documents on Tuesday, just 10 days before Trump’s inauguration, with a warning that the contents contained errors and were “unverified and potentially unverifiable” .
The decision to put the claims in the public domain forced other media outlets to repeat the allegations or ignore a story that lit up the internet. Some critics rounded on BuzzFeed, calling it irresponsible …
FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!