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This article was published on July 27, 2016

Did Trump really just encourage Russia to hack the US government?

Did Trump really just encourage Russia to hack the US government?
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

WikiLeaks, last week, published a cache of nearly 20,000 emails from top Democratic National Convention (DNC) officials, a move that led to the resignation of DNC charwoman Debbie Waserman Schultz. The hack that led to the dump was believed to have been carried out by government-sponsored hackers the FBI believes to be from Russia. While the case remains unsolved, it is under active investigation.

Presidential nominee Donald Trump had this to say about the hack, and Russia’s alleged involvement:

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said today. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

The 30,000 emails Trump is referring to are a pointed reference to the those ‘missing’ from Hillary Clinton’s home server. Clinton, as you may remember, escaped indictment even after FBI Director James Comey seemed to hint that there was enough evidence to charge her with a crime — not counting additional charges, such as tampering with evidence or obstruction of justice for seemingly deleting the emails in question.

Trump’s comment though, was just as troubling.

He would appear to be actively encouraging hackers to “find” the missing (or deleted) emails, and then touting a reward for turning them over to the press. While you’d be hard-pressed to find any American that didn’t want to know what the emails contained, encouraging foreign hackers to target emails containing classified information is yet another in a long line of political gaffs by the reported front-runner.

Jason Miller, Trump’s Senior Communications Advisor attempted to clarify Trump’s statement by saying he (Trump) wasn’t pushing Russia to intervene, but instead wanted anyone who might have the missing emails to turn them over to the proper authorities.

He then quickly deflected:

“I think it’s also important here to not let Hillary off the hook for why we’re even having this talk,” Miller said. “Because she illegally bungled 33,000 emails from her home server, and now the DNC had their anti-Sanders smear campaign emails shared with the world.”

The Clinton campaign was quick to respond to Trump’s initial comment:

“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,” top policy advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement.

“This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”

She’s got a point.

Accessing 30,000 ‘missing’ emails containing information that was classified at the time Clinton sent it — and additional items that were classified later — while enticing bad actors with a reward (even if he’s not the one paying it) for committing a crime is, at the very least, a show of poor taste. What Trump did could — depending on who was doing the finger-pointing — be considered treasonous.

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