President-Elect Donald Trump on Wednesday lashed out at on unsubstantiated news reports claiming that Russia had gathered compromising information on him for years.
Trump — in his first full-fledged news conference since July — specifically called out BuzzFeed for printing a document  purportedly prepared by a retired British intelligence officer. The news site’s editor acknowledged that the salacious details in that document could not be verified and that there were good reasons to doubt its veracity.
“No, not you. Not you. Your organization is terrible … You are fake news.”
“As far as BuzzFeed, which is a failing pile of garbage, writing it, I think they’re gonna suffer the consequences,”Trump said “They already are.”
Trump also criticized CNN, which aired a more restrained version of the story, focusing on the fact that U.S. intelligence briefers reportedly brought the issue to the attention of Trump and President Obama. At one point, Trump brushed off a CNN reporter’s attempt to ask a question.
“No, not you. Not you. Your organization is terrible,” he said, later adding, “You are fake news.”
Trump praised news organizations that showed different judgment.
“I want to thank a lot of news organizations, some of whom have not treated me very well over the years, a couple in particular, and they came out so strongly against that fake news and the fact that it was written about by primarily one group and one television station,” he said.
To those news organizations, Trump said, “I’ve just gone up a notch about what I think about you.”
Trump’s incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer, and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, also slammed the reports.
“The fact that BuzzFeed and CNN made the decision to run with this unsubstantiated claim is a sad and pathetic attempt to get clicks,” Spicer said. “The report is not an intelligence report, plain and simple.”
Pence said he always has recognized and defended the need for a free press.
“But with freedom comes responsibility,” he said. “And the irresponsible decision by a few news organization to run with a false and unsubstantiated report when most news organizations resisted he temptation to propagate this fake news can only be attributed to media bias and an attempt to demean the president-elect and our incoming administration and the American people are sick and tired of it.”
Spicer disputed reports that three people supposedly coordinated contact with Russia:
- Former campaign executive Paul Manafort, who has denied the story.
- Carter Page, a financier who has invested in the Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom and was a Trump campaign volunteer. Spicer said Trump does not know him and that the campaign “put him on notice” months ago.
- Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who is said to have traveled to Prague to meet with Russian authorities. Spicer said Cohen’s passport confirms that he never has even been to Prague.
Trump criticized U.S. intelligence officials who apparently leaked sensitive information to CNN.
“It's a disgrace that information would be let out … It’s all fake news,” he said. “It’s phony stuff. It didn’t happen. And it was gotten by opponents of ours.”
Trump said he accepts that Russia hacked Democratic operatives during the campaign but added that America’s cyber security vulnerabilities go far beyond threats from the Kremlin. He said he has asked for a report on hacking from his incoming intelligence team within 90 days of the inauguration.
“We have much hacking going on … We have some of the best computer minds in the world assembled,” he said.
Trump also took a dig at the Democratic National Committee, noting that the Republican National Committee reportedly fended off hacking attempts during the campaign.
“The Democratic National Committee was totally open to be hacked,” he said. “They did a terrible job.”