NEW YORK — Donald Trump took to Twitter, and blasted BuzzFeed and CNN during his news conference on Wednesday over publication of unverified memos alleging that Russian operatives have compromising personal and financial information about president-elect.
BuzzFeed published a 35-page document compiled by a former British intelligence operative on Tuesday night.
The publication came shortly after CNN revealed that a two-page synopsis of the document’s contents had been included as an annex in the classified materials presented last week to Trump and to President Barack Obama.
Incoming press secretary Sean Spicer opened the news conference Wednesday by blasting BuzzFeed as a left-wing press organization dealing in fake news.
Trump later said it is a “failing piece of garbage” and said it would “suffer the consequences” for publishing the report.
Later, CNN’s Jim Acosta attempted to ask the president-elect a question, but got shot down.
“Since you’re attacking our news organization, can you give us a chance to ask a question,” Acosta said.
“No. Not you. Not you. Your organization is terrible. Quiet. Don’t be rude. Don’t be rude. I’m not going to give you a question. You are fake news,” Trump said.
Among other things, the document — which is a compilation of memos prepared by the former operative — describes Russians who allegedly gave information about Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to the former operative.
But while CNN and other outlets did not publish specific details from the memos because they could not be independently verified, BuzzFeed published the memos in full.
“The dossier, which is a collection of memos written over a period of months, includes specific, unverified, and potentially unverifiable allegations of contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives, and graphic claims of sexual acts documented by the Russians,” the BuzzFeed article accompanying the document said.
“BuzzFeed News is publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the U.S. government.”
Trump took to Twitter before his news conference, saying it was fake news.
Wikileaks, which recently has been in lockstep with the president-elect in criticizing American media, also dismissed the memos.
Michael Cohen, a lawyer for Trump, also dismissed a portion of the memos alleging that he had secretly met with Kremlin officials in Prague in August.
When asked if he intended to take any action against BuzzFeed over their report, he said, “I’ll take it under advisement.”
Regardless of the veracity of the memos, within minutes of BuzzFeed’s publication of it, some of the more colorful details were already trending on Twitter.
“CNN’s decision to publish carefully sourced reporting about the operations of our government is vastly different than BuzzFeed’s decision to publish unsubstantiated memos,” the cable network said in a statement. “The Trump team knows this. They are using BuzzFeed’s decision to deflect from CNN’s reporting, which has been matched by the other major news organizations.
“We are fully confident in our reporting. It represents the core of what the First Amendment protects, informing the people of the inner workings of their government; in this case, briefing materials prepared for President Obama and President-elect Trump last week.
“We made it clear that we were not publishing any of the details of the 35-page document because we have not corroborated the report’s allegations. Given that members of the Trump transition team have so vocally criticized our reporting, we encourage them to identify, specifically, what they believe to be inaccurate.”