The claims published by BuzzFeed relate to a dossier, allegedly created by an anonymous former British intelligence official, which claims Russia has information on Trump that it's using to blackmail him, and that Trump and Moscow have been in communication for years.
The allegations include claims about Trump’s “personal obsessions and sexual perversion,” including the charge that Trump had Russian prostitutes urinate on each other in a Moscow hotel room which the Obamas stayed in during an official visit.
It also alleges Russia has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting,” Trump for years.
“It is not just unconfirmed: It includes some clear errors,” BuzzFeed admits. The dossier had reportedly circulated among officials and journalists for a few weeks, it said.
BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the report has been slammed by a number of prominent journalists, with Glenn Greenwald highly critical of BuzzFeed’s citing of anonymous sources.
The website has been slammed for its lack of verification in publishing the report, aiding in the spread of “fake news,” something BuzzFeed itself has been critical of in the past, as Guardian reporter Julia Carrie Wong noted.
One of the report’s glaring errors has already been debunked. Michael Cohen, special counsel to Trump, was named in the report as having met with Kremlin officials in August 2016.
Cohen has flatly denied the allegation, providing an alibi that he was visiting University of Southern California with his son at the time, and met with its baseball coach, which a USC baseball source confirmed. Cohen also said he has never been to Prague, or Russia.
The Atlantic's editor Jeffrey Goldberg again noted the report's "unverified information" and "anonymous figures" as being of major concern, while Conde Nast’s Chief Digital Officer, Wolfgang Blau, said it was “rare that a story stinks from every possible angle.”
WikiLeaks blasted the dossier, saying it was not an intelligence report and that the “style, facts and dates show no credibility.”
Mother Jones published a story about the memos in October, but didn’t go into the details of what had been alleged. It reported the former intelligence officer had sent the FBI memos, and that his findings were first funded by a Republican client before switching to a Democrat-aligned client.
David Corn, the author of the Mother Jones piece, confirmed he did not publish the memo due to his inability to confirm the allegations made in it.
Senior writer with Tablet Magazine Yair Rosenberg acknowledged a number of journalists had been aware of the report but "couldn't verify it" so did not publish it. Without video proof, Rosenberg said it was "just unsubstantiated innuendo."
“It’s so ridiculous on so many levels,” Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen said. “Clearly, the person who created this did so from their imagination or did so hoping that the liberal media would run with this fake story for whatever rationale they might have.”