Donald Trump, on Wednesday, encouraged the Russian government to conduct cyber-espionage against the U.S. State Department.
During a midday press conference, Trump was asked about growing linkage between himself, Vladimir Putin and the tranche of leaked DNC emails mysteriously released by Wikileaks late last week. In response, the Republican nominee for president said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” He continued, “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
“If they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do,” Trump said.
Make no mistake, this latest blurt proves, at the very least, that Trump is completely reckless and irresponsible with his public language. At most, this could easily be defined as a treasonous act in which the GOP nominee for president, who’s now officially receiving classified national security briefings, by the way, directly asked Putin and his intelligence agencies to spy on the Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State.
Condemnations of Trump’s remarks are coming in from all around, from both sides of the aisle.
Fmr. CIA Dir. Panetta on Trump call for Russia HRC hacking: Trump's loyalty to U.S. in question & possible "conspiracy" with a foreign power
— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) July 27, 2016
This is mindblowing. Basically asking foreign power to intervene on his behalf on camera. https://t.co/Zrwiw0c1Af
— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) July 27, 2016
Personally speaking, I think he is, especially after today's WTF moment. https://t.co/jUJyTqLx1Z
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) July 27, 2016
Trump has just publicly called on Russia to cyber-invade the United States to help get him elected: talk about high crimes & misdemeanors.
— Philip Gourevitch (@PGourevitch) July 27, 2016
Wow Clinton response to Trump:
He's asking Russia to do "espionage" on an opponent, beyond politics, this is now "a national security issue"
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) July 27, 2016
If Trump had been joking, Mike Pence would not have put out a statement trying to distance himself/clean it up.https://t.co/SErFJY7A5c
— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) July 27, 2016
And, though not addressing the specific remarks, Speaker Paul Ryan said today:
Paul Ryan spokesman: "Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election." https://t.co/UG7jZ6xpNL'
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) July 27, 2016
On CNN, today, David Gregory delivered an extended editorial about Trump’s behavior:
DAVID GREGORY: I’ve run out of words to express my shock and how completely beyond the pale that Donald Trump is as a potential leader of the free world, the commander in chief of our country. This was truly beyond the pale. I mean, he is encouraging Russia, which by all accounts was behind the leak of one of our major political parties, to do more, to go beyond, to try to hack into Hillary Clinton’s server to find missing emails to kind of get in the middle of the scandal. It’s as if this is a child playing with matches who doesn’t understand how badly he and the country can get burned. It’s a very serious thing. And I think that the one thing about Trump is that he is very clear for all to see. He is making very clear what he thinks, how he comes by information, and I think, frankly, the lack of seriousness and the intemperance with which he speaks about important national security matters should certainly give people pause. And I don’t think there’s anybody who would think that was anything but a fair reading of what we’ve seen here. Vladimir Putin is dangerous. He’s been dangerous to a Democratic president, to a Republican president, President George W. Bush who thought he had a better relationship with him. And now this nominee of the Republican Party wants a closer relationship with Vladimir Putin which is what he said. And he thinks that he has the ability to have a better relationship. There’s no evidence to believe that’s the case.
All of this is emerging amid continued allegations that the Putin regime is deliberately acting on behalf of Trump in order to skew the election in his favor. As we’ve been discussing for most of the week so far, there are growing connections between the Wikileaks dumping of 20,000 DNC emails, the Trump campaign, Russian oligarchs who are heavily invested in Trump, and, of course, Putin himself.
Additionally, Trump appeared to double-down via Twitter shortly after his press conference:
If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton's 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2016
While this is somewhat softer than his press conference remarks, it’s still Trump colluding with the Russians, who, he surmises, might have Hillary’s emails from her private server (a different matter than the DNC emails), in order to help him win the election. In other words, Trump asked for Russia to release any emails they might’ve stolen in order to help Trump defeat Hillary.
This is beyond shocking — it’s far beyond any other Trump gaffe. And even though it’s highly unlikely Trump will face and sort of legal sanctions, it underscores his indiscipline and his total disregard for propriety. Trump is a loose cannon yet he’s still a 50/50 shot from becoming the next commander-in-chief. For now.