PENTHOUSE magazine has offered to pay $1 million for the “rights” to an alleged sex tape featuring President-elect Donald Trump, after an extraordinary week in US politics.

Penthouse Global Media CEO Kelly Holland said the company is “intrigued” by reports claiming that the President-elect engaged in lewd sexual acts at a Moscow hotel.

The unverified claims were part of a dossier prepared by a former British intelligence agent and exploded onto the global stage this week when published by Buzzfeed and CNN.

The unverified story led the President-elect to dismiss the reports as “fake news” and liken US intelligence agencies to “Nazi Germany”.

He also said they could not be true because he was a “germophobe” who was always warning staff about being caught on camera.

Ms Holland said she wants to see the tapes for herself.

“We at Penthouse are committed to the value of getting the story right rather than getting it first. So we are offering up to $1-million to secure exclusive rights to the FSB tapes documenting Trump’s Russian hotel hijinks. After all, seeing is believing.”

On Wednesday, the man about to become the 45th President of the USA slammed CNN and Buzzfeed as a “failing pile of garbage” and took aim at CNN’s Jim Acosta, saying “your organisation is terrible”

“I’m not going to give you a question, you are fake news,” he repeatedly told him during a press conference.

STAFF CHEER ON TRUMP

During the explosive conference intermittent cheers could be heard from the crowd.

Now reporters at the scene have revealed Donald Trump’s staffers were the ones cheering him on as he repeated claims about the “movement” that got him elected.

Mr Trump said people didn’t care about whether or not he released his tax returns and that no one would be tougher on Putin than him.

“Does anybody believe Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me?” he said, as some staffers yelled “No!” in response.

On his tax returns, he said “oh geez” to a question about when they would be released.

“I’ve never heard that before. The only ones who care about my tax returns are the reporters. I became president.”

It’s not the first time Trump has enlisted support for his events.

In June last year, the President-elect used a casting agency to advertise for crowds to appear in a process known as “astroturfing” to simulate grassroots support.

An email obtained by The Hollywood Reporter showed he used a New York-based casting agency to offer $50 per person for the job.

“This event is called ‘People for a Stronger America’. The entire group is a pro-small business group that is dedicated to encouraging Donald Trump and his latest ventures. This event will be televised,” the email read.

“We are looking to cast people for the event to wear T-shirts and carry signs and help cheer him in support of his announcement.”

“We understand this is not a traditional ‘background job’, but we believe acting comes in all forms and this is inclusive of that school of thought.”

Politico’s Annie Karni said Wednesday’s “Greek Chorus” served as a “reminder, of sorts, of the movement of Trump backers happy to take him at his word and jeer the media as the out-of-touch liars”.

‘UNPRECEDENTED CONFLICT OF INTEREST’

The dramatic press conference was the President-elect’s first in months, which he said was due to “inaccurate” reporting.

Instead, he has recently opted for a daily string of tweets to give his views on everything from geopolitics to economics, which have had the power to move share prices and currency values.

On his business interests, Mr Trump’s lawyer announced he would give control of the Trump organisation to his sons Eric and Donald Jr, in a move that has been slammed by ethicists as not going far enough to separate his interests.

“I could actually run by business and as president at the same time,” The President-elect said in what would be a direct contradiction of the conventions of office.

Director of the US Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub Jr said: “Stepping back from running his businesses is meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective.”

The Sunlight Foundation, which keeps a running tab on conflicts of interests said Mr Trump will enter the White House with “unprecedented conflicts of interest” and is putting his business interests ahead of the country.

“Trump’s plan leaves the Presidency vulnerable to self-dealing, constitutional crisis, the appearance of corruption, and other abuses of power. Trump’s approach to governance and ethics repudiates decades of accepted norms for modern democratic accountability,” the organisation said.

On the day of his Senate confirmation hearing, Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, is facing questions about a decade-old report that the company he led once did business with state sponsors of terrorism.

A U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission report from 2006 has resurfaced with claims the oil and gas giant ExxonMobil conducted business with Syria, Sudan and Iran. All three countries were under U.S. sanctions for sponsoring terrorism at the time of the sales, between 2003 and 2005.

In a written response to the SEC report, ExxonMobil said the sales to these countries were mainly through another company, Infineum, a Europe-based joint venture between ExxonMobil and fellow oil giant Shell.

Protesters led by Greenpeace protest the Tillerson confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, January 11, 2017 (K. Gypson / VOA)

Protesters led by Greenpeace protest the Tillerson confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, January 11, 2017 (K. Gypson / VOA)

ExxonMobil said no U.S. employee was involved in the sales to the three countries. Tillerson was a senior executive during the time of the dealings, and he did not become CEO until 2006.

Tillerson speaks out

Tillerson was pressed on the matter this morning by U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. Menendez said that Exxon lobbied against the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act and wanted to eliminate secondary sanctions, which make it difficult to do joint ventures like the ones Exxon undertook with Shell in Iran, Sudan and Syria.

Tillerson said he has never personally lobbied against sanctions, and to his knowledge, neither has Exxon. He indicated that his view of sanctions is complicated, however, and he does not always view them as a positive.

“Sanctions are an important and powerful tool, but designing poor sanctions and having ineffective sanctions can have a worse effect than having no sanctions at all,” he said.

Tillerson also pushed back against drawing conclusions about which countries he will favor as the top U.S. diplomat. He said that in his corporate life he worked for his shareholders, and as secretary of state he will work for the American people.

“My pivot now, if confirmed to be secretary of state, I will have one mission only and that is to represent the interest of the American people,” he said.

Various deals

The sales between 2003 and 2005 totaled $53.2 million to Iran, $600,000 to Sudan, and $1.1 million to Syria. Additionally, the chemical segment of Exxon sold polyethylene and polypropylene worth $67.7 million to Syria.

In its written response to the SEC inquiry, ExxonMobil stressed the small size of the deals compared to their global business, which totaled $371 billion in annual revenue at the time.

The company also said it didn’t alert the SEC to the sales at the time they occurred because the sales were both legal and relatively insignificant. ExxonMobil points out that Infineum is based in Europe and that no U.S. employees were involved.

“These are all legal activities complying with the sanctions at the time,” Alan Jeffers, a media manager at ExxonMobil, told the newspaper USA Today. “We didn’t feel they were material because of the size of the transactions.”

Meanwhile, anti-corruption group Global Witness is urging the Senate to ask Tillerson about what it calls “questionable deals” in Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Chad. It says ExxonMobil dealt with autocratic regimes that entrench their people in poverty.

The group also charges that ExxonMobil has led efforts to eliminate policies aimed at reducing corruption and increasing transparency. ExxonMobil denies wrongdoing.