“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,” Trump said during a news conference in Florida.
Shortly after his event ended, Trump repeated his call on Twitter.
“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!” Trump tweeted.
Clinton’s campaign said Trump’s comments amounted to encouraging “a foreign power to conduct espionage.”
“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,” said Hillary for America senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan. “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.”
Trump’s comments represented a stunning twist in a controversy about Russia’s alleged intervention in the presidential election after the release of Democratic Party emails, which appeared to show that party leaders were tilting the playing field against Clinton’s Democratic primary opponent Bernie Sanders. US officials have said the emails were hacked from DNC servers in an operation originating in Russia that appeared to be linked to Moscow’s intelligence agency.
Trump also suggested during his news conference that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s lack of respect for the US prompted him to once call President Barack Obama “the N word.” There are no published reports to back up Trump’s claim about Putin’s use of the racially derogatory term.
“I was shocked. Number one, he doesn’t like him. Number two, he doesn’t respect him,” Trump said.
He called Russia’s potential involvement in the hack another sign of Russia’s “disrespect for our country.”
Trump said U.S.-Russia relations would be better under his presidency than if Clinton ascended to the Oval Office, saying he would treat Putin “firmly,” but would seek to bolster ties between the U.S. and Russia.
“He will respect me,” Trump said.