Trump Says He Hopes Russian Hackers Find Clinton’s Deleted Emails

Donald Trump said he has “never spoken” to Vladimir Putin amid allegations that his campaign colluded with the Russian president to hack Democratic National Committee emails. But the Republican presidential nominee encouraged Putin to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.

“I’ve never spoken to him. I don’t know anything about him other than he will respect me,” Trump said during a press conference this morning in Doral, Florida. “I have nothing to do with Russia.”

“By the way, if they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do,” Trump continued. “They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted.”

Clinton came under investigation for her use of a personal email address while serving as secretary of state. After turning over to the FBI all correspondence about government business during her years in the State Department, Clinton revealed at a press conference last year that she had deleted about half of her emails that pertained to personal matters, like her daughter’s wedding. Attorney General Loretta Lynch ultimately decided not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton.

While answering questions from reporters in Florida today, Trump looked directly into the cameras and said: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

Clinton’s senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan released a statement in response to Trump’s comments.

“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,” Sullivan said. “That’s not hyperbole, those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”

A handful of major cybersecurity firms have concluded that Russian hackers were the likely culprits of the DNC email release that Wikileaks published last week. Michael Buratowski, a cyber analyst with one of the firms that investigated the hack, told ABC News on Monday that Russians were to blame “beyond a reasonable doubt.” According to Buratowski, the hackers were using Russian internet addresses and typing on keyboards configured in Cyrillic.

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that accusations that Moscow was responsible for the hack are “absurd.”

“If it is Russia,” Trump said at the press conference today, “It shows how little respect they have for our country.”

Trump added: “It’s probably not Russia.”

The real estate mogul said that he would be “so much better for U.S.-Russian relations” if elected president. But he refused to tell Putin to stay out of the presidential election.

“I’m not going to tell Putin what to do. Why should I tell Putin what to do?” Trump retorted.

Within minutes of Trump’s on-camera comments, his running mate Mike Pence released a statement saying there will be “serious consequences” if Russia is behind the cyberattack.

“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,” the Indiana governor and GOP vice presidential nominee said.

ABC News’ Ines DeLaCuetara and Liz Kreutz contributed to this report.

Categories: National News, Politics