At his press conference this morning, Donald Trump literally stunned many who heard him when he said:
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. Let’s see if that happens.
Top figures in the intelligence community had told reporters that the evidence indicated the DNC emails had been hacked by Russia — not an individual malicious hacker, but Russian state intelligence agencies. Donald Trump, in effect, was recommending that Russia should move ahead with cyber-crimes against the United States.
When he was asked later in the press conference whether he was actually suggesting that Russia hack the United States, thus interfering in the American election, he answered only:
That’s up to the president.
Then he told the newswoman who asked the question:
Be quiet — let the president talk to them.
With that answer, Trump told the nation what he would clearly do if he became our commander-in-chief. Indeed, hoping that Russia does hack Hillary’s remaining emails, Trump added:
I hope they do. You’d see some beauties in there.
He also added that he did not think it was safe “to have Hillary Clinton briefed on national security because the word will get out.”
Trump then brought up her aide Huma Abedin. He mentioned that she was married to disgraced former congressman and NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner; that Weiner “is a sleazeball and a pervert.” Hence, Trump did not want Abedin going “home at night and telling Anthony Weiner all of those secrets.”
As most people understand, those who receive access to classified information are sworn not to reveal it to anyone, including one’s spouse. He thus made a charge, despite not having any evidence, that Abedin would do that.
Moreover, disregarding the word of U.S. intelligence agencies, he proceeded to argue that the belief Russia was behind the DNC hacking is a “conspiracy theory.” This is an ironic claim from Trump, since for decades Trump has himself been a master of conspiracy theories.
The hack, he added, “is probably not Russia.” Refusing to say that he would reprimand Vladimir Putin for hacking confidential files pertaining to the campaign, Trump replied:
I’m not going to tell Putin what do do. Why should I tell Putin what to do?
If they had done it, Trump suggested it simply showed what disrespect they had for President Barack Obama. Referring to himself in the third person, he said:
President Trump would be so much better for U.S. relations. I don’t think he respects Clinton.
Unsaid was the obvious elephant in the room. Donald Trump’s adviser Paul Manafort worked for the former pro-Russian Ukranian president who sought to make Ukraine part of Russia. His adviser, General Michael Flynn, was shown with Putin at a meeting held for RT, Russia’s U.S.-based propaganda network. When asked whether he was paid by RT, Flynn recently refused to answer the question.
If Putin indeed favors Trump for the U.S. election, it could be because Trump has offered signs that he would pursue a foreign policy favorable to Russia. Trump has previously made statements indicating his belief that what happens in Ukraine and Crimea is only Russia’s business.
Trump supports policies that would be favorable to Putin’s expansionist goals for his own nation. Trump favors a NATO breakup. German journalist Mareike Adan asked Trump whether he would recognize Crimea as Russian and lift sanctions currently in place, and Trump answered:
Yes, we would be looking at that.
His answer is a confirmation that, as Frank Foer argued in his now much-quoted Slate article, Trump is more than likely “Putin’s puppet.”
Trump also told the press they should “be quiet,” since he knew they “want to save” Hillary Clinton. When questions were asked about whether or not he had business interests in Russia, Trump answered “I have nothing to do with Russia.”
If that is the case, one must ask why Trump will not release his tax returns.
Many suspect that they would reveal a great deal about what business deals he has made, and with whom. If he turned out to have dealings with Russian interests, the returns would reveal that.
Right after the press confab came to an end, his running mate Mike Pence released a statement that was an obvious attempt to clean up the damage. The FBI, Pence said, “will get to the bottom of this.” If Russia was interfering in the American election, Pence assured the public that both parties in the election campaign, as well as the U.S. government, “will ensure there are serious consequences.”
Pence’s response indicates that perhaps the GOP picked the wrong man for the top of the ticket.
What would Donald Trump have said if Hillary Clinton held a press conference saying exactly what he told us? Might he have said, using the title of Rebecca West’s old and still-worthwhile book, that it amounts to a “new meaning of treason”? The answer, sadly, is obvious.
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