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MOSCOW — The Russian government denied unverified reports Wednesday that it has compromising information about Donald Trump, dismissing the claims as a "total hoax."
Two U.S. officials told NBC News that briefing materials prepared for Trump included damaging allegations, which have not been verified by American intelligence agencies, about his dealings with Russians.
A dossier published by BuzzFeed includes claims that the Russian government has been cultivating, supporting and assisting the Trump for five years — even obtaining compromising information in an effort to blackmail him. The document has not been authenticated by BuzzFeed or NBC News and contains obvious errors.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected all of these allegations out of hand.
"The Kremlin does not have compromising information about Trump," he said, according to Russian state-run news agency TASS. "It's a total hoax, absolute fabrication and utter nonsense. The Kremlin does not collect compromising information."
Peskov also called the reports "pulp fiction."
Trump did not respond to the reports directly but sent a tweet appearing to refer to it on Tuesday night.
Peskov mentioned Trump's tweet, and went on to say that some people were "boosting the hysteria and go to any lengths to maintain this state of 'witch hunting.'"
In an interview with NBC News before his farewell address Tuesday night in Chicago, President Barack Obama said he had not seen the news accounts of Trump's Russian ties but noted that "as a matter of principle and national security, I don't comment on classified information."
Last month, Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats as punishment for Russia's alleged cyberattacks in the run-up to the November 8 election.
The CIA has concluded that the interference was intended to help Donald Trump win, and intelligence officials told NBC News that they believe "with a high level of confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally involved in the covert campaign.
Trump has been skeptical about the alleged Russian hacks, even as he repeatedly praised Putin.