Donald Trump gave a news conference Wednesday morning during which he suggested that Russia ought to try to find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails.
Trump talked about seeing Robby Mook on television talking about Russia’s involvement in the hack of the Democratic National Committee:
Trump went on to say, “I have nothing to do with Putin. I’ve never spoken to him. I don’t know anything about him other than he will respect me.” “He doesn’t respect our president,” Trump added.
On the subject of the DNC hack, Trump said this was a sign of Russia’s lack of respect. “If it is Russia, which it’s probably not—nobody knows who it is, it’s really bad for a different reason because it shows how little respect they have for our country when they would hack into a major party and get everything.
“But it would be interesting to see…I will tell you this. Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That’ll be next.”
Donald Trump: "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing." https://t.co/f522S7Tn0F
— CNN (@CNN) July 27, 2016
It’s hard to know what to make of Trump. He bounces between saying, in a somewhat serious way, that the DNC hack shows a lack of respect for the United States. But then, in the very next breath, he’s calling on Russia to find Hillary’s missing emails.
With Trump the mantra seems to be: Always be trolling. Did he really ask the Russians to hack Hillary? Not really. The emails were deleted long ago and the server was collected by the FBI months ago. If Russia doesn’t have those emails by now, it’s too late. Nevertheless, here’s the Clinton camp reaction claiming Trump is calling on “a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent.”
Clinton camp response to Trump pic.twitter.com/9YoygohTzm
— Sam Stein (@samstein) July 27, 2016
I’m not a fan of Trump’s loose approach but the Clinton camp and the media are overreaching here. The idea that Hillary’s email system was hacked (by someone) is something many people, including FBI Director Comey, have already said was a genuine possibility. If it did happen, that’s not Trump’s fault. And Wikileaks, which is retailing this material apparently hacked by Russia has already said it has more, and worse, in the hopper. That’s not Trump’s doing either. At worst, Trump is admitting he’d be happy to see Hillary take a hit from these ongoing leaks. That’s unseemly (and probably unwise) for a candidate to say but it’s not the same as asking Russia to commit espionage.
And as a matter of politics, well it’s a mixed bag as Trump’s stories often are. On one hand, he’ll get hit for this all day. On the other hand, Trump has completely knocked day 2 of the Democratic convention out of the news and even as the press attacks him they’ll also be talking about Hillary’s deleted emails, the DNC hack and what might be dropping next from Wikileaks. So, sure, Trump just stepped on a landmine of his own making but he also made sure Hillary was standing right next to him when it went off.