Donald Trump lived up to his reputation as a loose cannon Wednesday on the campaign trail.
During a news conference in Florida, the freshly minted Republican presidential nominee called on Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails from her tenure as secretary of state, The New York Times reports.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump stated. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
This comes against the backdrop of accusations that Moscow hacked into the Democratic National Committee’s computer server in June, obtaining the party’s research on Trump, The Washington Post reported.
Russia is also accused of trying to influence the outcome of the presidential election. The FBI suspects that Russia is behind leaked DNC emails that WikiLeaks posted on Friday, according to The Daily Beast.
The Times said Trump “dismissed” a question about whether he’s actually urging a rival power to engage in cyber espionage against Clinton or to interfere with a U.S. election.
In fact, Trump told NBC News correspondent Katy Tur to “be quiet,” Politico reported.
The Clinton campaign wasted no time firing back. Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s foreign policy adviser, called Trump’s statement a “national security issue,” according to The Los Angeles Times.
“This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent. That’s not hyperbole; those are just the facts.”
Meanwhile, some Republican leaders are distancing themselves from their presidential nominee’s statement. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokesman Brendan Buck said, “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election,” Politico reported.
The news outlet said Trump ally Newt Gingrich took a different position, claiming that the GOP nominee was just joking, and Clinton is the real culprit for using a private server.