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Politics

Trump Denies Claims He Employed Prostitutes in Russia: ‘I’m a Germaphobe’

Updated

In his first press conference since the election, President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday addressed unverified claims that Russia has compromising and salacious personal information about him — including alleged videos involving Trump and prostitutes in a 2013 visit to a Moscow hotel.

Asked about the allegations during Wednesday’s press conference, Trump acknowledged that he had traveled to Moscow in 2013 for the Miss Universe pageant but denied engaging in anything improper.

He also said he has always been very careful when he travels the world because “I’m a very high-profile person, wouldn’t you say?” He added that on all foreign trips, including to Russia, he regularly warns his entourage of staff and bodyguards to “be good” but also to “be very careful, because in your hotel rooms and no matter where you go, you’re going to probably have cameras … Cameras that are so small with modern technology that you can’t see them.”

“I am extremely careful,” he said. “I’m surrounded by bodyguards … I always tell them, be very careful, because … in those rooms you have cameras in the strangest places … You can’t see them and you won’t know. You better be careful or you will be watching yourself on nightly television.”

“I’m also very much of a germaphobe, by the way — believe me,” he added, drawing knowing laughter from the room. For the record, Trump insisted in a 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he was “not germaphobic” and had no issue kissing babies and shaking hands on the campaign trail. “I go through and shake hands and do what I have to do, and people like me and I like them,” he said at the time. “In Iowa, I must have shaken 2,000 hands — and those were only the ones that were next to me.”

Trump first denied the allegations about Russia in a Twitter post Tuesday night, without referencing the details of the document published by BuzzFeed.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin has also denied allegations that the Kremlin has compromising information about Trump, calling them “complete fabrication and utter nonsense.” Trump noted this denial when he weighed in again early Wednesday before the press conference:

Trump also praised news organizations that didn’t publish the document, saying, “I want to thank a lot of the news organizations here today because they looked at that nonsense that was released by maybe the intelligence agencies, who knows, but maybe the intelligence agencies, which would be a tremendous blot on their record if they in fact did that.”

As for the reports that leaders of the U.S. intelligence community last week gave Trump a special briefing on the allegations, the president-elect confirmed that he had heard about the report before it was made public but did not offer any further details.