Fu­ri­ous de­bate fol­low­ing Trump’s plea to Rus­sia to ‘hack’ Clin­ton

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

WASH­ING­TON — Af­ter Don­ald Trump en­cour­aged Rus­sia to find and make pub­lic miss­ing emails deleted by his pres­i­den­tial op­po­nent, Hil­lary Clin­ton, an in­stant de­bate ex­ploded over hack­ing and his urg­ing of a for­eign gov­ern­ment to med­dle in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics.

Shortly af­ter Trump’s ex­tra­or­di­nary re­marks on Wed­nes­day, his Repub­li­can run­ning mate, In­di­ana Gov­er­nor Mike Pence, took a dif­fer­ent tack and warned of “se­ri­ous con­se­quences” if Rus­sia in­ter­fered in the elec­tion.

Democrats — and some Repub­li­cans — quickly con­demned the re­marks by the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial stan­dard-bearer. They came as the Democrats met on the third day of their na­tional con­ven­tion in Philadelphia, where Clin­ton was to ac­cept the pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion last night to face Repub­li­can Trump in Novem­ber.

Trump’s com­ments raised the ques­tion of whether he was con­don­ing for­eign gov­ern­ment hack­ing of US com­put­ers and the pub­lic re­lease of in­for­ma­tion stolen from po­lit­i­cal ad­ver­saries — ac­tions that are at least pub­licly frowned upon across the globe.

His brief re­marks man­aged to di­vert at­ten­tion from an em­bar­rass­ing leak of other hacked emails that ex­posed sen­si­tive in­ter­nal po­lit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tions that had di­vided Democrats.

“Rus­sia, if you’re lis­ten­ing, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are miss­ing,” Trump said. He was re­fer­ring to emails on Clin­ton’s pri­vate server that she said she deleted — be­cause they were pri­vate — be­fore turn­ing other mes­sages over to the State Depart­ment.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment de­clined to pros­e­cute Clin­ton over her email prac­tices, but FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey called her “ex­tremely care­less” in han­dling clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion as Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s sec­re­tary of state.

The Clin­ton cam­paign called Trump’s state­ment the “first time that a ma­jor pres­i­den­tial can­di­date has ac­tively en­cour­aged a for­eign power to con­duct es­pi­onage against a po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent”.

At a news con­fer­ence in Do­ral, Florida, af­ter Trump’s ini­tial re­marks, he was asked whether he had any qualms about ask­ing a for­eign gov­ern­ment to hack into com­put­ers in the United States. Trump did not di­rectly re­spond ex­cept to say, “That’s up to the pres­i­dent. Let the pres­i­dent talk to them.”

He later added: “If Rus­sia or China or any other coun­try has those emails, I mean, to be hon­est with you, I’d love to see them.”

Trump’s in­vi­ta­tion was im­me­di­ately con­tra­dicted by his run­ning mate. Pence con­demned any pos­si­ble cy­ber es­pi­onage, break­ing from Trump for the first time since be­ing se­lected to run with him.

“If it’s 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,” Pence said in a state­ment.

At the con­ven­tion, Leon Panetta, for­mer CIA di­rec­tor and de­fence sec­re­tary, blasted Trump’s re­marks, say­ing that Trump is “ask­ing a US ad­ver­sary to en­gage in hack­ing or in­tel­li­gence ef­forts against the United States of Amer­ica to af­fect an elec­tion.”

Se­nior pol­icy ad­viser for Trump, Stephen Miller, bat­tled back, say­ing in a state­ment: “It’s alarm­ing that Leon Panetta would, through his silence, ex­cuse Hil­lary Clin­ton’s en­able­ment of for­eign es­pi­onage with her il­le­gal email scheme and her cor­rupt de­ci­sion to then de­stroy those emails and dis­sem­ble her ‘pri­vate’ server to hide her crimes from the pub­lic and au­thor­i­ties.”

Bren­dan Buck, a spokesper­son for Repub­li­can House Speaker Paul Ryan said bluntly: “Rus­sia is a global men­ace led by a de­vi­ous thug. Putin should stay out of this elec­tion.”

A Trump cam­paign com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­viser, Ja­son Miller, sought to clar­ify Trump’s state­ments, say­ing on Twit­ter that Trump never urged or in­vited Rus­sia to hack Clin­ton’s emails.

In­stead, he said, Trump was “clearly say­ing” that if Rus­sia or any­one else al­ready had Clin­ton’s deleted emails they should share them with the FBI. Trump never men­tioned the FBI in his com­ments.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear where or how Clin­ton’s deleted emails might be re­cov­ered, un­less an ad­ver­sary had pre­vi­ously hacked the com­puter server she op­er­ated in the base­ment of her home in Chap­paqua, New York, be­fore she had deleted the mes­sages.

The As­so­ci­ated Press, which dis­cov­ered the base­ment server’s ex­is­tence in March 2015, pre­vi­ously re­ported that it was con­nected to the In­ter­net in ways that made it more vul­ner­a­ble to hack­ers. The FBI con­cluded it was pos­si­ble hack­ers broke into her server but found no di­rect ev­i­dence.

Wed­nes­day’s ex­change oc­curred hours af­ter Obama iden­ti­fied Rus­sia as al­most cer­tainly re­spon­si­ble for hack­ing the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee in a dif­fer­ent case. Last week, Wik­iLeaks pub­lished on its web­site more than 19,000 in­ter­nal emails stolen from the DNC ear­lier this year.

The emails showed DNC staffers sup­port­ing Clin­ton when they were pub­licly promis­ing to re­main neu­tral dur­ing the pri­mary elec­tions be­tween Sen­a­tor Bernie San­ders and her. The head of the DNC, Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz, re­signed over the dis­clo­sures.

Trump cast doubt on whether Rus­sia was be­hind that hack. He said blam­ing Rus­sia was de­flect­ing at­ten­tion from the em­bar­rass­ing ma­te­rial in the emails.

“Rus­sia has no re­spect for our coun­try, if it’s Rus­sia,” Trump said. “It could be China. It could be some­one sit­ting in his bed­room. It’s prob­a­bly not Rus­sia. No­body knows if it’s Rus­sia.”

Barack Obama and Hil­lary Clin­ton

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.