Showing he is familiar with the claims in the explosive dossier, Putin launched into a series of ribald jokes about prostitutes, riffing on Trump's former role as owner of the Miss Universe beauty contest.
The unsubstantiated dossier published by American media last week alleged that Russia had gathered compromising information on Trump, namely videos involving prostitutes at a luxury Moscow hotel, supposedly as a potential means for blackmail.
In his first public comments on the claims, Putin rubbished the idea that Russian secret services would have spied on Trump during his 2013 visit to Moscow for the Miss Universe final, as alleged in the dossier.
"Trump when he came to Moscow... wasn't any kind of political figure, we didn't even know of his political ambitions," Putin said, responding to a journalist's question at a news conference.
"Does anyone think that our special services chase every American billionaire? Of course not, it's just completely ridiculous."
Putin also questioned why Trump would feel the need to hire prostitutes, given his opportunities to meet beautiful women at the Miss Universe contest.
"He's a grown-up for a start and secondly a man who spent his whole life organising beauty contests and meeting the most beautiful women in the world," Putin said.
"I can hardly imagine that he ran off to a hotel to meet our girls of 'lowered social responsibility'," said Putin, adding jokingly "although they are of course the best in the world.
"I doubt Trump fell for that."
Putin went on to compare those behind the dossier unfavourably with prostitutes.
"The people who order falsifications of the kind that are now circulating against the US president-elect -- they are worse than prostitutes, they don't have any moral limits at all.
"The fact that such methods are being used against the US president-elect is a unique case: nothing like this has happened before.
"This shows a significant level of degradation of the political elite in the West."
|© Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images Russia's President Vladimir Putin looks on during a press conference following talks with Moldova's President Igor Dodon (not in picture).|
Russia’s Putin rejects Trump dossier report as plot against ‘legitimacy’ of president-elect
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday called reports that Donald Trump has been compromised by Russian intelligence “total nonsense” and said allegations were fabricated to “undermine the legitimacy” of Trump’s presidency.
It was the Russian president’s first direct denial of the contents of an uncorroborated dossier written by a former British intelligence agent hired to compile opposition research. The dossier claimed that Trump was compromised by Russian intelligence agents during a 2013 visit to Moscow to hold the Miss Universe pageant.
“The people who are ordering this kind of false information, who are now disseminating it against the president-elect of the United States, who fabricate it and use it in a political fight, are worse than prostitutes,” Putin told journalists after talks with Moldovan President Igor Dodon in Moscow. “They have no moral boundaries.”
In a moment of levity, Putin addressed some of the more salacious rumors in the dossier: “You know, it’s difficult for me to imagine that he ran to the hotel to meet with our women of lower social responsibility. Even though they’re the best in the world, of course. But I doubt that Trump went after them.”
Putin’s remarks were just part of a larger indictment on Tuesday of the American establishment and political opponents of Trump as Russia enthusiastically waves farewell to the Obama administration this week and awaits a new U.S. administration that may give the Kremlin greater influence in international affairs.
In a nationally televised news conference on Tuesday morning, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov railed against the “messianism” and export by the West of “post-Christian values” that embrace “permissiveness,” a nod toward the conservative ethos that has found increasing support in the Kremlin.
Once an exporter of democracy, the West now tries to export values that are anathema to society in Russia, Lavrov complained. Under Trump, the Kremlin is hoping the United States will shift to focus more on national affairs than global values.
Lavrov said he was looking forward to cooperating with the incoming administration in the war on terrorism and bringing peace to Syria, and he took a shot at the Obama administration for what he called “double standards.”
“If we hear that in the foreign policy of Donald Trump the main thing will be the fight against terrorism, then we, of course, can only welcome that, since that is exactly the thing that has been lacking with our American partners,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov also criticized U.S. spy agencies for what he described as numerous efforts to recruit Russian diplomats and attempts by U.S. diplomats to disguise themselves to conduct reconnaissance in Russian. Lavrov’s spokeswoman on Sunday made headlines in Russia when she said U.S. officials had tried to recruit a Russian diplomat who was arrested while trying to procure medicine for a leading Russian politician.
Like Putin, Lavrov brushed aside the racy dossier.
The document was published in full by BuzzFeed this month after reports that Trump and President Obama were briefed on its contents by the intelligence community.
The dossier’s claims are separate, however, from an assessment endorsed by all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian intelligence used electronic hacking to try to swing the presidential election in favor of Trump.
Other major news organizations, including The Washington Post, have had the document for several months but have been unable to verify crucial allegations made by the author.
During the news conference, Putin said Russia did not even know that Trump had political ambitions when he was in Moscow in 2013. “What do you think, our intelligence services are chasing after every American billionaire? Of course not! It’s total nonsense,” Putin said.
Despite criticism, Trump has stood by his calls for a reset in relations with Russia, setting him potentially at odds with cabinet picks who have described Moscow as a global adversary. On Sunday, Trump took aim at outgoing CIA chief John Brennan for saying the president-elect “does not fully understand” the Russian threat. In a tweet, Trump said current U.S. policies toward Russia could not be “much worse.”
Referring to Syria, where Russia has been backing the regime of Bashar al-Assad against rebels, including moderate groups supported by the United States, Lavrov said Moscow hoped that Trump’s administration “will not apply double standards to use the war on terrorism to achieve goals that don’t have anything to do with this goal.”
Asked to comment on reports that the Trump campaign was seeking a summit in Reykjavik, where Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev held nuclear talks in 1986, Lavrov said the report was untrue and that any arrangements would be made after Trump was inaugurated as president.
Vladimir Putin dismisses Donald Trump dossier claims as 'rubbish'
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that a damning dossier on US President-elect Donald Trump was "false" and dismissed allegations that his country's security services had been monitoring Trump as "rubbish."
Putin made clear Tuesday he was familiar with some of the unsubstantiated allegations about Donald Trump in a dossier prepared by a former British intelligence agent. As CNN first reported, Trump and President Obama were presented the dossier by senior intelligence officials, who warned that Russia may have gathered compromising material on the President-elect. Buzzfeed later published the dossier in full.
At a news conference in Moscow, Putin referred to some of the more salacious and unverifiable allegations -- which CNN has not previously reported. They included claims that Russia had video evidence of Trump with prostitutes at a hotel in Moscow when he was in the city for the Miss Universe pageant in 2013.
"These things that have been alleged are clearly false information," Putin said during the joint news conference with the Moldovan president.
"It is true that when (Trump) came to Moscow -- I don't remember when, a few years ago -- he was not a political actor. We did not know about his political ambitions. He was just a businessman, one of the rich people of America. What do you think -- we have special security services running after every American billionaire? Of course not. It is complete rubbish," Putin added.
Putin joked about the allegations before vigorously defending Trump and attacking those who prepared and published the dossier:
"Did Trump really come and meet with Moscow prostitutes? Firstly he is an adult, and secondly he is a person who for many years has organized a beauty pageant, socialized with the most beautiful women in the world. It is hard to believe that he ran to a hotel to meet with our girls of a low social class, although they are the best in the world," Putin said.
"But finally, you know, what I want to say, prostitution is a serious, ugly, social phenomenon, young women do this connected to the fact that they cannot survive any other way and that is a problem of society but people who order false information and spread this information against the elected President, who fabricate it and use it in a political fight, they are worse than prostitutes," he added.
The Russian leader also said he had never met the President-elect.
"I don't know what he will be doing on the international stage. So I have no foundation to criticize him nor to defend him," Putin added.
The accusations against Russian security officials were presented in a two-page synopsis, appended to a report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The allegations came, in part, from memos compiled by the former British intelligence operative, whose past work US intelligence officials consider credible. The FBI is investigating the credibility and accuracy of these allegations, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Trump.
Trump dismissed the allegations as "fake news" at a news conference last week.