Donald Trump hasn’t given a press conference for 167 days, but this was some comeback appearance. The President-elect came out swinging, to put it mildly. Responding to sensational reports that Russian intelligence might have kompromat – a comprising piece of evidence, possibly a sex tape involving ‘golden showers’ – against him, Trump was angry, full of righteous indignation. He said that ‘sick people’ in the media had concocted the story. He called it ‘fake news’ and ‘garbage’. He suggested that, because he was a ‘germaphobe’ he was unlikely to have allowed prostitutes to do disgusting things to him in a Moscow hotel room.
The Trump-FSB kompromat story has been circling around major news organisations such as the BBC and the New York Times for months. According to some, it’s a sex tape; others say it is a financial scandal involving Russia. (We’ll soon be publishing an investigation by the Beeb’s Paul Wood, who has been following this for months.) But responsible news outlets didn’t feel the allegations were substantial enough to run. Now, however, Buzzfeed, with just days to go before the inauguration, has taken the plunge and run the story – even though the details are still opaque.
Trump certainly appears confident enough to dismiss the story out of hand – but then, even the slightest indication of guilt in response to the wild claims would have been fatal for his incoming presidency. The next few days will be interesting. Do John McCain and other anti-Trump Senators in Washington have enough evidence and determination to start an impeachment procedure even before Trump arrives in office? We shall have to wait and see.
As if that were not drama enough, Trump arrogantly brushed off concerns about his businesses causing him conflicts of interest as Commander-in-chief, and he said the public doesn’t care about his tax returns. Was this just more straight-talking from the most unusual man ever to win an American presidential election, or was it an attempt to distract attention from a Russian influence story that refuses to go away?
Freddy Gray and Paul Wood discuss whether Donald Trump is an agent of Russian influence:
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