When the Hillary Clinton campaign alleged the Russian government leaked a trove of Democratic National Committee emails to help Donald Trump’s campaign, Trump saw it as a "total deflection," saying it’s "probably China, or somebody sitting in his bed."
But, if it was Russia, Trump has another job for them: Finding the 33,000 emails Clinton lost on her private email server.
"Russia, if you are listening, I hope you are able to find the 33,000 emails that are missing — I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press," Trump said at a press conference in Florida on Wednesday.
He reasserted the claim on Twitter, expanding the call to any other possible hackers:
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
Hillary for America's policy adviser Jake Sullivan responded to Trump's remarks, calling it a "national security issue" and the first time a presidential nominee has advocated for international countries to spy on the United States:
"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 in a statement. "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 campaign spokesperson Jason Miller clarified Trump's comment on Twitter: Trump is not calling for countries to hack the Clinton's server, Miller wrote.
3/7 To be clear, Mr. Trump did not call on, or invite, Russia or anyone else to hack Hillary Clinton’s e-mails today.— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) July 27, 2016
4/7 Trump was clearly saying that if Russia or others have Clinton’s 33,000 illegally deleted emails, they should share them w/ FBI immed.— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) July 27, 2016
WikiLeaks published a collection of DNC emails, which showed an internal bias toward Clinton, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, ultimately pushing DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to tender her resignation. After the leak, Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook alleged Russian hackers had orchestrated the breach in order to help Trump, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper, "I don't think it's coincidental that these emails were released on the eve of our convention here, and I think that's disturbing."
Trump’s campaign called the allegations "a joke," and Trump has taken to questioning whether Russia was even behind the leak. Meanwhile, Republican congressional leader Paul Ryan’s spokesperson stepped up his negative rhetoric toward Putin.
"Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election," Ryan’s spokesman Brendan Buck said in a statement obtained by BuzzFeed.
It’s not the first time Trump has been accused of being a bit too friendly with Putin. Putin once called Trump "colorful" and "talented," and Trump has praised Putin’s strong leadership. The Washington Post also reported on Trump’s 30 years of business back and forth with Russia.
On Wednesday, Trump maintained he has nothing to do with Putin and has no investments in Russia: "I never met Putin, I don’t know who Putin is," Trump said, reasserting that the allegations against him are just a political deflection by Clinton’s campaign.