Donald Trump asked Russian hackers to "find the 30,000 emails that are missing"

By Tierney McAfee
Updated July 27, 2016 12:55 PM
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Credit: Greg E. Mathieson Sr./REX/Shutterstock

Donald Trump challenged Russia to hack Hillary Clinton Wednesday, saying in a press conference in Florida, “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,” he added.

Hillary for America Senior Policy Advisor Jake Sullivan released the following statement in response to Trump’s comments:

“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. That’s not hyperbole, those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”

Later in the press conference, Trump told NBC reporter Katy Tur to “be quiet” after she pressed him on whether he had “any qualms” about encouraging a foreign government to hack Clinton’s emails. “It’s up to the president,” Trump first replied. “Let the president talk to them.”

“You said, ‘I welcome them to find those 30,000 emails,’ ” Tur said before Trump cut her off.

“Well, they probably have them,” he said. “I’d like to have them released.”

“Does that not give you pause?” Tur asked incredulously.

“Nope, gives me no pause,” Trump shot back. “If they have them, they have them.”

As the two continued to talk over each other and Tur attempted to ask follow-up questions, Trump said, “Be quiet. I know you want to save [Clinton]. That a person in our government, Katy, would delete or get rid of 33,000 emails. That’s gives me a big problem. After she gets a subpeona. She gets subpeoned, and she gets rid of 33,000 emails … that gives me a problem.”

“Now, if Russia or China or any other country [has Clinton’s emails] – and to be honest with you, I’d love to see ’em,” he concluded, according to The Hill.

Trump later doubled down on his comments in a tweet saying:

Also during the press conference, the GOP nominee contradicted previous comments he made that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin were “stablemates” who had gotten to know each other “very well” when they were both interviewed – in different countries – for 60 Minutes.

“I don’t know who Putin is,” Trump said Wednesday. “He said one nice thing about me I never met Putin.”

Doubling down on his promise to improve U.S. relations with Russia, Trump continued, “I would treat Vladimir Putin firmly, but there is nothing I can think of that I would rather do than have Russia friendly as opposed to the way they are right now so that we can go knockout ISIS together with other people and other countries. Wouldn’t it be nice if we got along with people?”

Trump later said that “Russia has no respect for our country” and that the hack “shows how weak we are, it shows how disrespected we are it’s a total sign of disrespect for our country.”

There is growing evidence that Russian hackers were responsible for the Democratic National Committee hack, in which emails were stolen showing that staffers plotted against Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid in favor of Clinton.

The FBI is still investigating the hack but is “reluctant” to say the Russian government is behind it due to a lack of hard evidence, CNN Money reported Tuesday. But a U.S. official told CNN on Wednesday that there is “little doubt” that Russia is responsible for the hack.

The Krelim on Wednesday dismissed the accusations that Russia had hacked the DNC as “made-up horror stories,” CNBC reported.

Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, released a statement on the hack on Wednesday saying, “The FBI will get to the bottom of who is behind the hacking. If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences.”

“That said, the Democrats singularly focusing on who might be behind it and not addressing the basic fact that they’ve been exposed as a party who not only rigs the government, but rigs elections while literally accepting cash for federal appointments is outrageous. The American people now have absolute and further proof of the corruption that exists around Hillary Clinton. It should disqualify her from office, if the media did their job.”

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Obama Says It’s ‘Possible’ Russia Hacked the DNC to Influence U.S. Election

Meanwhile, President Obama on Tuesday responded to researchers’ claims that Russians hacked the DNC in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election.

“Anything’s possible,” the president said in an interview with NBC News‘ Savannah Guthrie.

“I think the FBI’s still investigating what happened. I know that experts have attributed this to the Russians. What we do know is is that the Russians hack our systems. Not just government systems, but private systems. But what the motives were in terms of the leaks, all that – I can’t say directly.”

The president added that Trump has “repeatedly expressed admiration” for Putin.

Asked whether he was suggesting that Putin would benefit from a Trump presidency, Obama replied, “I am basing this on what Mr. Trump himself has said. And I think that Trump’s gotten pretty favorable coverage back in Russia.”

Trump has spoken highly of Putin the past, and the Russian leader endorsed the GOP nominee in December, calling him an “absolute leader in the presidential race.”