Reports alleging Russia tried to use compromising personal and financial information against President-elect Donald Trump are "total, complete garbage," incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Wednesday, calling the document published online unverifiable.
"Look, Buzzfeed themselves said it was garbage," Priebus told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, referring to the website that published the memo in full. "The New York Times would not even print the document because it was unverifiable."
The document, reportedly produced by an unnamed British MI6 intelligence agent, had circulated for months, Priebus said, and "it shows up."
"Tens of thousands of retired agents around the world and you got some agent, somewhere, maybe in the UK, who hangs a shingle and says 'pay me a rate. I'm going to do opposition research.' He or she does a memo," Priebus said.
The report centered around Trump aide Michael Cohen, claiming he went to Prague and met with Russian agents, but Cohen "had never been to Prague in his life," Priebus said.
"I don't know what it says about the report," Priebus said. "In fact, the coach of USC baseball in southern California said, 'wait a second, he wasn't in Prague. He was with me in southern California with his son.' The guy has never been to Prague."
Priebus said he also made Cohen show him his passport, and he looked at it and questioned him, and as it turns out, Cohen had not only never been to Prague, but also eastern Europe.
"It never happened," Priebus said. "And here we are . . . It's not a U.S. Intelligence document."
Priebus noted he was in the room last Friday when Trump was briefed by intelligence chiefs, and denied a CNN report they presented classified information to Trump last week that included claims Russia had compromising personal and financial information about him.
"The first I heard of all of this salacious garbage is when someone printed out this document last night, so it's not like we are sitting around talking about hotel rooms and meetings in Prague for four days now and, suddenly, we are acting like, 'oh, my gosh, this is crazy,'" Priebus said. "It never happened."
He did say he could not discuss reports the intelligence chiefs included a two-page dossier on the report, as that was classified information.
"Honestly, I can't even verify whether the two-page document exists," Priebus said. "What I'm telling you there was no craziness in Russia. There was no meeting in Prague. This was opposition research done by some campaign or operative that somehow leaked out.
"It is not an intelligence document. Cohen has never been to Prague, and all of this stuff isn't even fit to print in The New York Times."
Priebus insisted during the intelligence meeting, "I didn't hear any of those crazy things that are in that report, and I can tell you last night, when this came out, [Trump] would tell you the same thing I'm telling you, that this a total complete garbage about him personally."
The claims involved, he continued, are "embarrassing, it's disgusting. It's not true. Unfortunately, I think you all understand this because you cover every second of politics the last year-and-a-half, I just have to say, unfortunately, I have to say, the folks here are just starting to get used to this kind of craziness that comes up."
Priebus also appeared on Fox News' "Fox & Friends" and on NBC's "Today" show, where he also lambasted the memo as "garbage."
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