During an infamous July 27, 2016 press conference that would prove to be the last he would hold during the campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump encouraged Russian hackers to go after Hillary Clinton.
“Russia, if you’re listening — I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens.”
VIDEO: Trump: "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing…" https://t.co/NEGclzLXtP
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) July 27, 2016
After Trump won the election, administration officials tried to downplay his public encouragement of Russian hackers as a joke. But the latest indictment filed by special counsel Robert Mueller indicates Russia was indeed listening, and took Trump seriously.
According to the indictment, on the same day Trump made those comments, Russian hackers “attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provided and used by Clinton’s personal office. At or around the same time, they also targeted seventy-six email addresses at the domain for the Clinton Campaign.”
The indictment — which charges 12 Russian military intelligence officials with hacking the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) servers in 2015 and 2016, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) servers, and the email accounts of staffers working for Clinton’s presidential campaign — details how Kremlin agents sought to influence the 2016 presidential election.
During a news conference on Friday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein confirmed he briefed Trump about the forthcoming indictment earlier in the week, before the president departed for Europe.
But the president is apparently unconcerned about the latest evidence of Russian meddling in American politics. During a news conference held just hours before the latest Mueller indictment was announced, Trump dismissed the Mueller investigation as “a witch hunt,” and expressed desire to forge closer relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I think I would have a very good relationship with President Putin if we spent time together,” Trump said. “I think that we are being hurt very badly by the, I would call it the witch hunt, I would call it the rigged witch hunt.”