NEW YORK - President-elect Donald Trump said on Wednesday that U.S. intelligence agencies might have leaked a dossier of what he called "fake news" about how Russia had tried to sway his actions, saying the allegations were false.
In his first formal news conference since July, Trump slammed two news organizations for reporting unsubstantiated claims about his ties to Moscow but praised other reporters for holding back.
"I think it's a disgrace that information would be let out," Trump told about 250 reporters jammed into the lobby at his New York offices.
"It's all fake news, it's phony stuff, it didn't happen," said Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20. The dossier, which emerged late on Tuesday, was first reported by CNN. BuzzFeed published detailed elements of the report.
Two U.S. officials said Tuesday evening that the allegations, 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.
The Republican president-elect has long said he hopes to improve ties with Moscow, but his plans have come under intense scrutiny after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia used cyber attacks and other tactics to try to tilt the presidential election in his favor over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
His stance has rattled traditional U.S. allies such as NATO countries and many U.S. foreign policy experts who consider Russia a geopolitical adversary.
About a dozen protesters gathered behind a police barricade across the street from Trump Tower, holding signs with slogans like "Dump Trump" and "Allegiance To America Not Russia" as Fifth Avenue traffic streamed by.
At the other end of the block, a separate group of protesters held signs with Trump sporting a Hitler moustache, and chanted, "In the name of humanity, we refuse to accept a fascist America!"
The Russia news obscured what was the original purpose of the news conference: a chance for the real estate developer to describe how he will separate himself from his global business operations to avoid conflicts of interest once he takes office.
Trump, who owns hotels and golf courses as well as assets like a winery and modeling agency, will transfer all his assets into a trust and put his two sons in charge, hiring an ethics adviser to review any transactions for conflicts, a Trump lawyer told reporters on Wednesday.
The company will not enter any new deals while Trump is president, and all profits generated at Trump's hotels by foreign governments will be donated to the U.S. Treasury, the lawyer said.
His daughter Ivanka, whose husband Jared Kushner will be a senior adviser to Trump in the White House, also will cease her management role in the Trump Organization, the lawyer said. (Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu, Jeff Mason, Jonathan Landay and John Walcott in Washington and Jonathan Allen and Melissa Fares in New York; Writing by Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Frances Kerry and Alistair Bell)