Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump wants to steal some of the Democratic Party’s spotlight during the Democratic Convention with yet another puzzling declaration. At a press conference in Florida today, Trump invited Russia (yes, the entire country of Russia) to hack into Hillary Clinton’s inbox and release “the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.”
If this sounds irresponsible, it’s because it is. Encouraging a foreign power to find out about state secrets isn’t in your country’s best interests. But it looks like Trump really, really wants to win this election. The rest doesn’t matter.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing,” Trump said. “I think that you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That will be next.”
This wasn’t a misstep as he later tweeted the same thing. When Clinton used a private server while in public office, she had to hand over around 30,000 emails with State Department information for the investigation. The other 30,000 emails were ignored in the investigation as those were personal emails. Trump is referring to these personal emails.
And of course, Trump’s comment comes right after WikiLeaks released thousands of Democratic National Committee emails. There could be a connection between this leak and the Russian government as Russian government hackers had access to DNC secret files for over a year, according to a Washington Post report.
So in case you are living under a rock, the two nominees have been going back and forth about the role of the Russian government in this year’s U.S. election. The Democrats are accusing the Russian Government of influencing the election in favor of Trump. The Republicans are saying that they didn’t ask anything from Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Russian government should stay out of this election anyway.
“This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent,” Clinton’s senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement. “This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”
Now, Trump is backtracking from his unconditional friendship with Putin. “I never met Putin, I don’t know who Putin is,” Trump said at today’s press conference. “He said one nice thing about me. He said I’m a genius. I said thank you very much to the newspaper and that was the end of it. I never met Putin.”
Whether the Russian government is behind the DNC email leak or not, Trump knows how to divert the attention from the Democratic Convention and other important issues. But this could backfire if the FBI finds out that the Russian government is interfering with the election indeed.