In a terse press conference Wednesday morning at his property in Doral, Florida, Donald Trump said he hopes that Hillary Clinton’s “lost” emails have fallen into Russian hands and urged the foreign government to release them.
When asked about documents stolen in a cyber attack on the Democratic National Committee’s servers, Trump suggested hackers had also breached Clinton’s personal email server.
“By the way, if they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do,” the GOP nominee told reporters, referring to Russia, who security experts suspect was behind the hack. “They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted.”
He also addressed the country directly: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you can find the 33,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Clinton’s campaign has maintained they handed over all work-related State Department emails to the FBI as part of a probe into Clinton’s use of the private server. But Trump and other conservatives have repeatedly hammered Clinton for deleting more than 30,000 emails that staffers said were “personal and private,” which they have touted as evidence of malfeasance.
Later on in the presser, NBC News reporter Katy Tur asked Trump to clarify his remarks.
“Do you have any qualms about asking a foreign government, Russia, China, anybody, to interfere, to hack into a system of anybody’s in this country?” she asked.
“It’s up to the President. Let the President talk to them. Look, here’s the problem, here’s the problem, Katy. He has no respect –” Trump replied.
“You said, ‘I welcome them to find those 30,000 emails,’” Tur said before the mogul cut her off.
“Well, they probably have them. I’d like to have them released,” Trump said.
Tur asked again: “Does that not give you pause?”
“Nope, gives me no pause,” Trump fired back. “If they have them, they have them.”
The GOP nominee went on to say Clinton’s emails give him “more pause” and shut down reporters who tried to cut in with “Be quiet, I know you want to save her,” an apparent reference to Tur.
After the press conference, Trump took to his preferred social medium to somewhat refine his original sweeping directive.
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
In a statement, Hillary Clinton’s senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan said Trump’s remarks have escalated to “a national security issue.”
“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,” Sullivan said. “This has gone from being a matter of curiosity and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”
This story has been updated.