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'Total garbage': Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus strikes down report on president-elect's Russia ties

Reince Priebus said briefing materials indicating Russia had gathered potentially damaging, but unverified, information about the president-elect were "wild accusations" and "total garbage."
/ Source: TODAY

Reince Priebus, incoming White House chief of staff for Donald Trump, shot down unverified reports that Russia had collected damaging and salacious information on the president-elect, calling them "garbage" and "shameful."

“The first I had heard of any of these wild accusations was when someone printed it off the BuzzFeed website,” Priebus said Wednesday on TODAY, referring to the news site that published a document containing the explosive allegations.

"It's all phony baloney garbage," he said about the report and related claims that Trump and his aides had conversations with Russians during the presidential campaign.

Sources have told NBC News that top U.S. intelligence officers informed both Trump and President Obama last week about salacious information the Russian government allegedly had gathered on the president-elect.

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The FBI was investigating the information, which include compromising and damaging details about Trump’s personal and financial life. The details have not been verified by U.S. agencies.

Trump responded to the claim Tuesday night on Twitter:

Asked about Trump's reaction, Priebus said, "He said it was total garbage, and I’m keeping it clean."

A declassified version of the report, which was released last week, concluded that a Russian covert operation designed to undermine American democracy evolved into an attempt to help Trump win the election.

The potential bombshell arrived a week before Trump is scheduled to take the oath of office as president.

In several moments during Tuesday's interview, Priebus noted that the report alleged Trump aide Michael Cohen met with Russian government officials in Prague during the campaign.

“The guy has never been to Prague in his life,” Priebus said of Cohen, a lawyer for the president-elect. He criticized the report as paid opposition research written from by a former intelligence agent in Britain.

“This is some retired guy somewhere out in the world acting like (James Bond author) Ian Fleming trying to maybe write a fiction novel,” he said.

"And the other salacious garbage that was in this report? Didn’t happen," he said. "We're talking about fake news. It's shamful. It isn't a document that came from our intelligence community."