Trump: I Was 'Being Sarcastic' When I Asked Russia To Release Clinton Emails

In an interview that aired Thursday morning on "Fox and Friends," Donald Trump said he was not being serious when he called on Russia to find and release emails deleted by Hillary Clinton.

Fox News' Brian Kilmeade told Trump that Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said that Trump's comments hoping Russia would hack into Clinton's server were a national security issue.

"You have to be kidding," Trump responded. "His client, his person deleted 33,000 emails illegally. You look at that. And when I'm being sarcastic with something..."

Kilmeade jumped in to ask, "Are you being sarcastic?"

"Of course I'm being sarcastic," Trump replied. "But you have 33,000 emails deleted, and the real problem is what was said on those emails from the Democratic National Committee. You take look at what was said on those emails, it's disgraceful."

The Fox host also asked Trump about his past comments praising Putin.

"When you look at Vladimir Putin, you say he's a great leader for his country, but he’s also a guy…" Kilmeade said.

"No, I didn't say that," Trump hit back, cutting Kilmeade off. "I said he's a better leader than Obama."

When Kilmeade tried to interject, Trump said, "I said he’s a better leader than Obama. Because Obama is not a leader. So He's certainly doing a better job than Obama is. And that’s all."

"You have to understand, Putin, if we could get along with Russia, I think that would be a good thing, not a bad thing. We don't get along with Russia," the Republican nominee added.

Kilmeade noted to Trump that the U.S. has "criteria to be friends with somebody."

"So, if they're going to invade the Ukraine, if they’re going to buzz our ships that they're doing right now..." he said before Trump jumped in to respond.

"You know why? You know why they do that? Because they have no respect for our leader. That’s why they do it," Trump said.

"And if they did that with you in office, what would you do?" Kilmeade then asked.

"I don't think they'd be doing that for one minute," Trump replied.

"Because?" Kilmeade pressed.

"Because I think they respect me. They don't respect President Obama," Trump responded.

And when Kilmeade asked Trump if he would respond to Putin's aggression with force, Trump refused to say.

"I'm not going to tell you what I'd do. Why would I tell you a thing like that? Wouldn't that be crazy to tell you what I’d do? You react at the time," Trump said. "Part of the problem with this country is they go and they say, ‘We’re going to do this, we're going to attack here, we’re going to send this many men.' No, no. You got to keep it a little bit secret."

Watch a clip from the interview via Fox News:

.@realDonaldTrump shoots back after critics slam him for 'calling on Russia' to find Hillary's missing emails.https://t.co/grTw355fw0

— FOX & Friends (@foxandfriends) July 28, 2016

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