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Who Are You Going To Believe? Trump’s Campaign Or Trump’s Words

CREDIT: CSPAN SCREENGRAB
CREDIT: CSPAN SCREENGRAB

During a news conference on Wednesday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump encouraged Russian hackers to “find” tens of thousands of emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s server, adding that media coverage would result in the hackers being “rewarded mightily by our press.”

He never mentioned or suggested he wants the emails turned over to law enforcement. Here’s video, followed by the full quote:

But it would be interesting to see — I will tell you this — Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That’ll be next.

Trump is suggesting a new hack (“Hope you’re able to find”… “That’ll be next”) would result in positive media coverage for the hackers (“You will probably be rewarded mightily”). That sounds like persuasion, not an admonishment to share evidence with authorities.

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But as people wondered whether Trump’s comments were treasonous or merely irresponsible, he and his campaign spun up a less devious interpretation: Regardless of what he actually said, Trump just wants the emails turned over to the FBI.

Just minutes after the presser ended, Trump tweeted this:

A couple hours later, that new interpretation was echoed by Trump senior communications advisor Jason Miller — the former Cruz staffer who deleted a number of anti-Trump tweets after he was hired by Trump in June.

Not only did Trump not say that, but there’s actually a history of him calling for foreign hacking of computers used by the highest levels of the executive branch. For instance:

Then, in 2014, Trump encouraged hacking of President Obama’s college records in hopes they’d somehow substantiate his long-debunked birther fantasies:

The FBI doesn’t need Russian hackers to access the emails Clinton deleted in the first place. Last year, the agency was reportedly able to obtain the emails from the private server Clinton used while she was secretary of state. While it remains unclear whether the FBI has possession of all of them, the company that managed the server said it had no knowledge of it ever being wiped.