July 28, 2016 - 11:03 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Donald Trump encouraged Russia on Wednesday, July 27 to find and make public missing emails deleted by his presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton, setting off an instant debate over hacking and his urging of a foreign government to meddle in American politics, the Associated Press reports.
Trump's comments raised the question of whether he was condoning foreign government hacking of U.S. computers and the public release of information stolen from political adversaries — actions that are at least publicly frowned upon across the globe. His brief remarks managed to divert attention from an embarrassing leak of other hacked emails that exposed sensitive internal political communications that had divided Democrats.
"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said. He was referring to emails on Clinton's private server that she said she deleted — because they were private — before turning other messages over to the State Department. The Justice Department declined to prosecute Clinton over her email practices, but FBI Director James Comey called her "extremely careless" in handling classified information as President Barack Obama's secretary of state.
At a news conference in Doral, Florida, after Trump's initial remarks, he was asked whether he had any qualms about asking a foreign government to hack into computers in the United States. Trump did not directly respond except to say, "That's up to the president. Let the president talk to them."
He later added: "If Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I mean, to be honest with you, I'd love to see them."
Trump's invitation was immediately contradicted by his running mate. Pence condemned any possible cyberespionage, breaking from Trump for the first time since being selected to run with him, AP says.
"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," Pence said in a statement.