A recent hack of the Democratic National Committee has proven embarrassing for the party but left many talking concernedly about foreign influence in U.S. elections. The concerns are amplified by the Trump campaign’s reported ties to Russia.
As if he were deaf to these concerns, Donald Trump today called for Russian hackers to commit espionage against the United States for the purpose of exposing Hillary Clinton’s lost emails.
The New York Times reports:
Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that he hoped Russia had hacked Hillary Clinton’s email, essentially encouraging an adversarial foreign power’s cyberspying on a secretary of state’s correspondence.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, staring directly into the cameras. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Mr. Trump’s call was an extraordinary moment at a time when Russia is being accused of meddling in the U.S. presidential election. His comments came amid questions about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers, which researchers have concluded was likely the work of two Russian intelligence agencies.
Later in the news conference, when asked if he was really urging a foreign nation to hack into the private email server of Mrs. Clinton, or at least meddle in the nation’s elections, he dismissed the question. “That’s up to the president,” Mr. Trump said, before finally saying “be quiet” to the female questioner. “Let the president talk to them.”
Trump’s suggestion was immediately seized upon by the Clinton campaign, which is now accusing Trump of encouraging espionage. As far as the theories spreading like brush fires that Russia is aiding the Trump campaign, Trump just poured gasoline on them.
If Trump is joking, and he may well have been, it is poorly timed and ill-executed. National security matters should not be a laughing matter for would-be presidents. What’s next, is Trump going to jokingly invite ISIS to sabotage Hillary’s campaign?