In an extraordinary press conference, Republican nominee Donald Trump challenged Russia to find about 30,000 emails that Democrat Hillary Clinton is accused of deleting from her private email server.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” said Trump, addressing the TV cameras at his golf club in Doral, Fla. “I think you will probably be mightily rewarded by our press.”
The call came as Russia is being accused of tampering with a U.S. presidential election by hacking the Democratic National Committee’s servers. The release of those emails showed that DNC staffers were working to undermine Sen. Bernie Sanders campaign and prompted the resignation of DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Clinton’s campaign painted Trump’s remarks as an unequivocal sign that he’s not fit to lead the nation.
“Donald Trump, who is seeking to become our commander in chief, is now openly inviting Russia to engage in cyberattacks against the United States,” said Brian Fallon, a Clinton spokesman. “This is a bridge too far.”
Trump also said he didn’t believe Russia was behind the DNC hack and refused to call on Russian president Vladimir Putin not to interfere with the U.S. election.
“I’m not going to tell Putin what to do,” Trump said. “Why should I tell Putin what to do?”
Minutes after the press conference ended, Trump’s campaign sent this statement from his running-mate Mike Pence:
“The FBI will get to the bottom of who is behind the hacking. If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences. That said, the Democrats singularly focusing on who might be behind it and not addressing the basic fact that they’ve been exposed as a party who not only rigs the government, but rigs elections while literally accepting cash for federal appointments is outrageous. The American people now have absolute and further proof of the corruption that exists around Hillary Clinton. It should disqualify her from office, if the media did their job.”