Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump have both rejected unverified claims about Trump's ties to the Kremlin that are made in a dossier circulating among US law enforcement agencies and senior politicians, stating that the allegations are intended to damage US and Russian relations.
The 35-page document, published on Tuesday night by BuzzFeed News, claims the Russian government has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Trump in the years running up to his election. The unsubstantiated memos also claim Russia has potentially embarrassing information about the now–president-elect.
In a strongly worded statement on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the document was "an obvious attempt to harm our bilateral relations."
Trump took to twitter to say that Russia has "has never tried to use leverage over me" and to decry "A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT." Trump's longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, also denied one of the dossier's claims: that the attorney had visited Prague for a meeting with Russian operatives.
Peskov, according to the Russian news agency agency TASS, said: "The Kremlin has no compromising dossier on Trump, these allegations are untrue and are totally made up." He added, "This is called pulp fiction and [such publication] is an obvious attempt to harm our bilateral relations."
"The quality of this paper speaks for itself. [It is necessary] to respond to this with a certain sense of humor," he said. "Although there’s a sad side to this indeed. There are those who escalating the hysteria and who go all out to maintain a state of witch hunt."
Trump also dismissed the allegations. In a series of tweets Wednesday morning the president-elect supported the Russian government's claim that the dossier was false, and said: "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me."
He went on to seriously criticize US intelligence agencies, saying they were taking a "last shot" at him, before making a comparison to Nazi Germany.
The president-elect had yesterday called the allegations a "total political witch hunt" in a tweet shortly after the publication of the dossier.
Meanwhile, Trump's lawyer Cohen – who was also named in the unverified dossier – told The Atlantic Tuesday the allegations were "totally fake, totally inaccurate".
Cohen, who in the dossier is alleged to have been to Prague for a meeting with Russian operatives, told the magazine he had never visited either the Czech Republic or Russia. He also tweeted a picture of his passport cover repeating the denials. "The story is completely inaccurate, it is fake news meant to malign Mr. Trump," he said.
According to the dossier, Cohen had been in Prague sometime in late August or early September. The Atlantic quoted an unnamed "baseball source" at the University of Southern California saying that Cohen and his son had visited USC on Aug. 29.
A government source told CNN's Jake Tapper that a different Michael Cohen — with a passport from another country — was in Prague. This Michael Cohen reportedly shared the same birth year as Trump's lawyer, but a different birth date. "So for Cohen to dispute that he was in the Czech Republic completely confirms and comports with our reporting," Tapper said.
Sen. Dick Durbin on Wednesday called for a special investigation into the dossier, saying, "The American people need to know the credibility of these allegations of attempts to compromise the President-elect — his public statements about Russia and President Putin are even more worrisome in this context."
Durbin said the unverified reports "warrant serious investigation by a Select Committee in Congress or a Commission of public officials and private citizens." He also called for assurance from Sen. Jeff Sessions — whose confirmation hearing to be the next US Attorney General is underway — to continue investigating the allegations.
Nikolay Kovalyov, former director of the Russian security service, the FSB, also rejected reports Russia's secret service had damaging material on Trump.
"Of course there’s no kompromat [secret dossier]," Interfax news agency reported Kovalyov as saying. "Collect some dirt on a man who came here and engaged in the production of some kind of beauty contest? Who can be possibly interested in that?"
Kovalyov, who was director of the FSB from July 1996 to July 1998, said that in his experience "there’s no such practice in Russia."
According to Interfax, he went on to state: "It seems that the Obama administration has pulled all efforts to compromise the winner of the presidential race, and in this struggle they believe that all means are good."
The validity of the documents was criticized by WikiLeaks. The organization tweeted early Wednesday morning that the report's "style, facts & dates show no credibility."
During an appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers, the president-elect's former campaign manager and current White House senior staffer Kellyanne Conway said Trump was “not aware” of any briefing on the matter.