Don­ald Trump just en­cour­aged Rus­sia to spy on Hil­lary Clin­ton

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - AARON BLAKE Wash­ing­ton Post

Don­ald Trump stated Wed­nes­day that he “hopes” one of the United States’ most an­tag­o­nis­tic fel­low world pow­ers has un­re­leased emails from Hil­lary Clin­ton’s ten­ure as sec­re­tary of state.

“They prob­a­bly have her 33,000 emails too; I hope they do,” he said of Rus­sia.

Later, he added: “Rus­sia, if you’re lis­ten­ing, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are miss­ing. I think you will prob­a­bly be re­warded might­ily by our press.”

Trump here is re­fer­ring to ap­prox­i­mately half of more than 60,000 emails on the pri­vate server Clin­ton used as sec­re­tary of state which were deleted be­cause they were deemed “per­sonal” and not turned over to State Depart­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tors. Repub­li­cans have cried foul over their dele­tion.

This is a re­mark­able ex­pressed wish from an Amer­i­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date: that a for­eign gov­ern­ment that has been pit­ted against the United States on many for­eign pol­icy is­sues would have or would soon ob­tain the pri­vate emails of his op­po­nent — who is, af­ter all, a po­ten­tial fu­ture Amer­i­can pres­i­dent, against whom those emails could os­ten­si­bly be used.

It should be noted that this is not an en­tirely new av­enue of at­tack for Trump.

He has said be­fore, with­out any ev­i­dence, that U.S. en­e­mies “al­most cer­tainly” have ac­cessed Clin­ton’s emails and are us­ing them to black­mail her.

FBI di­rec­tor James Comey said in re­buk­ing Clin­ton’s use of the email server ear­lier this month that it’s pos­si­ble this hap­pened, but there was no ev­i­dence yet that it was.

“Given that com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors, we as­sess it is pos­si­ble that hos­tile ac­tors gained ac­cess to Sec­re­tary Clin­ton’s per­sonal email ac­count,” he said.

Trump’s line here seems to be high­light­ing the fact that Clin­ton deleted her emails, full stop. If Rus­sia can find them, af­ter all, maybe they’ll come to light af­ter all?

In­deed, shortly af­ter his com­ments caused a wave of con­tro­versy Wed­nes­day morn­ing, Trump sug­gested that he was urg­ing Rus­sia to turn the deleted emails over to the FBI, tweet­ing:

“If Rus­sia or any other coun­try or per­son has Hil­lary Clin­ton’s 33,000 il­le­gally deleted emails, per­haps they should share them with the FBI!”

But that sce­nario could also very plau­si­bly lend it­self to the kind of cy­beres­pi­onage — black­mail or other­wise — that Trump has al­ready al­leged Clin­ton is be­ing sub­jected to.

The emails were per­sonal and shouldn’t con­tain clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion, yes, but many work-re­lated emails Clin­ton said didn’t con­tain clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion were later proved by the FBI to have con­tained some.

And even if the in­for­ma­tion is all per­sonal in na­ture, that could be used against Clin­ton, too.

Trump, of course, has gone far out­side the main­stream on for­eign pol­icy be­fore.

He has ba­si­cally said he might uni­lat­er­ally pull the United States out of its obli­ga­tion to de­fend other NATO coun­tries when at­tacked if they don’t foot more of the bill for NATO.

“We’re talk­ing about coun­tries that are do­ing very well,” he told the New York Times last week.

“Then yes, I would be ab­so­lutely pre­pared to tell those coun­tries, ‘Con­grat­u­la­tions, you will be de­fend­ing your­self.’”

The com­ment earned stern re­bukes from all sides of the Amer­i­can for­eign pol­icy de­bate and for­eign lead­ers.

The mes­sage it sends to al­lies, ex­perts said, is that the United States can’t be trusted to hon­our its for­eign com­mit­ments — which would be a ma­jor prob­lem for the United States’ stand­ing in the world and for main­tain­ing and build­ing re­la­tion­ships with al­lies.

So Trump is clearly not abid­ing by the stan­dard pro­to­col of Amer­i­can of­fi­cials talk­ing care­fully about for­eign pol­icy.

But Wed­nes­day’s com­ments ratchet things up even more. Even as he con­tended that he’s not the pre­ferred can­di­date of Rus­sia — as Democrats have al­leged and Vladimir Putin has sug­gested — he’s now hop­ing Rus­sia has po­ten­tially dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about a pos­si­ble U.S. pres­i­dent. That’s stun­ning. And while Trump didn’t say he wants Rus­sia to use those emails for black­mail or es­pi­onage pur­poses, his pre­vi­ous com­ments make it quite clear it’s a pos­si­bil­ity he’s very well aware of.

Don­ald Trump: ratch­et­ing things up

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