The Republican presidential nominee was referring to the widely held suspicion that Russia is responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee’s servers, resulting in the leak of tens of thousands of emails just days before the party’s nominating convention in Philadelphia.
Trump then addressed the rogue nation directly, saying “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
While his advocates will say his comments were a joke, critics seized on whether anyone who aspires to be President should be giving encouragement to an adversary.
Within moments of Trump’s press conference, his running mate, Mike Pence, released a statement distancing himself from the nominee’s words.
“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.”
“I find those kinds of comments to be totally outrageous,” Leon Panetta, a former secretary of defense and director of central intelligence in the Obama administration, said of Trump’s comments. “You’ve got now a presidential candidate who is in fact asking the Russians to engage in American politics. I just think that is beyond the pale.”