JAMESTOWN – Donald Trump on Wednesday held a news conference in Miami and said he’d like to see Moscow find the thousands of emails Hillary Clinton deleted from the account she used as Secretary of State. Trump made the statements even after scheduling a news conference in order to dismiss suggestions from Democrats that Moscow already was intervening on his behalf.
“Russia, if you’re listening,I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing; I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” Trump said.
Trump’s comments fed Democrats’ contentions that the billionaire businessman is unqualified to be commander in chief. He has no national security experience and has breezily dismissed decades of U.S. foreign policy constants, like standing by NATO allies that long suffered under Russian domination. And both Democrats and Republicans have voiced concern over what appears to be a candidate for president encouraging Russia to meddle in the political campaign for the highest office in the country.
Trump’s Republican running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, warned of “serious consequences” if Russia interfered in the election. Meanwhile the Clinton campaign called Trump’s statement the “first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against a political opponent.
Trump, however, tried to turn the table on Clinton, saying he believed it unsafe for her to receive national security briefings in light of her well-known email missteps while in office.
Locally, congressional candidate John Plumb (D-Lakewood) took note of Trump’s comments, with the John Plumb for Congress campaign sending out an email Wednesday afternoon with their candidate criticizing Trump for his comments.
“I can’t believe what I’m reading. Today, Donald Trump publicly invited Russia to hack our government’s emails in order to attack Hillary Clinton,” Plumb said in the email. “I’ve spent my career defending our country from attacks. I never imagined we would see a presidential candidate openly asking for one… If you want to be Commander in Chief, you don’t go around inviting foreign spies to hack or attack our government. That’s not how you keep our citizens or our armed forces safe.”
Plumb also used Trump’s latest comments to attack his opponent, Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning), who was one of the first members of congress to come out and support Trump during the GOP primaries.
“This is the dangerous man my opponent, GOP Congressman Tom Reed, has thrown his support behind… his blind support of Donald Trump is putting our security at risk,” Plumb said.
While many have come out and criticized Trump for the statement, at least one writer – Jake Novak with CNBC – says the comments by Trump were a calculated effort at misdirection, intended to take the focus off the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and put the spotlight back on the email controversy that’s dogged Clinton for the past several months.