NEW YORK (Reuters) - President-elect Donald Trump escalated a fight with U.S. spy agencies and accused them of practices reminiscent of Nazi Germany over a dossier that makes salacious claims about him in Russia.
The Republican said leaks from the intelligence community led to some U.S. media outlets reporting unsubstantiated claims that he was caught in a compromising position in Russia.
"I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. I think it's a disgrace, and I say that ... that's something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do," Trump told a news conference in New York.
For the first time, Trump acknowledged that Russia likely hacked the Democratic National Committee and the emails of top Democrats during the 2016 presidential election. "I think it was Russia,” he said, pointing out that other countries were also hacking the United States.
Trump’s comments about spy agencies such as the CIA are likely to intensify tensions between the intelligence community and the president-elect, who initially disparaged its conclusion that a Russian hacking campaign was aimed at boosting his candidacy against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, called a dossier that makes salacious claims about him in Russia "fake news" and "phony stuff."
MEMO AND REPORTS
Two U.S. officials said the allegations about Trump, which one called "unsubstantiated," were contained in a two-page memo appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election that was presented last week to Trump and to President Barack Obama.
Trump said, without offering evidence, that the news he had been briefed on the memo "was released by maybe the (U.S.) intelligence agencies. Who knows? But maybe the intelligence agencies which would be a tremendous blot on their record if they in fact did that."
CNN reported on Tuesday about the existence of the memo. BuzzFeed published a fuller 35-page document produced by Christopher Steele, a former British foreign intelligence official, that outlined the allegations of compromising behavior by Trump and alleged links between the businessman and people in Russia.
The claims were included in opposition research reports that were made available last year to Democrats and U.S. officials.
One U.S. official said investigators had so far been unable to confirm material about Trump's financial and personal entanglements with Russian businessmen and others whom U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded are Russian intelligence officers or working on behalf of Russian intelligence.
Some material in Steele's reports has proved to be erroneous, the U.S. official said.
In the news conference, Trump declined to answer whether anyone connected to him or the campaign had contact with Moscow during the presidential campaign, and said he had no loans or business deals with Russia.
By Ayesha Rascoe | NEW YORK