US President-elect Donald Trump has furiously denied allegations that Russia has personally compromising material on him and that he used intelligence from the Kremlin to win the presidency.
The allegations stem from a unverified and possibly unverifiable opposition research report carried out by a Trump opponent during the election, which is claimed to have been carried out by a former member of British intelligence.
The report has been circulating in media and political circles in Washington for weeks, but was only made public when it was published by Buzzfeed on Tuesday evening.
The 35-page document, which includes some factual errors, claims that Russian intelligence have been “cultivating, supporting, and assisting Trump for at least 5 years” in an effort to “encourage splits and divisions in [the]western alliance”.
It goes on to claim that Trump refused various “sweetener” real estate deals, notably surrounding the upcoming 2018 World Cup, but his team were receptive to a “regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals”
The report alleges that Russian intelligence holds “kompromat” or compromising material in Trump, including some lurid sexual antics involving Trump that were claimed to have been filmed in Moscow in 2013. This material, if real, could leave Trump open to blackmail in the future.
The report provides no evidence to back up its claims, but it was taken seriously enough by a number of influential politicians, including senator John McCain, who sent it to the FBI for analysis.
Last week, US intelligence officials deemed the information suitably important that they reportedly presented a two-page synopsis of the claims to President Barack Obama, congressional leaders, and Trump himself.
Russia denies the claims and Trump has described them as “fake news” and a “witch hunt” by the intelligence community and mainstream media against his presidency. He claims he has “nothing to do with Russia – no deals, no loans, no nothing”.
The publication of this explosive report comes amid claims by the US intelligence community that Russia was behind the hack of Democratic Party emails, which were published by Wikileaks, and some believe may have changed the outcome of the election.