The top story in this morning’s characteristically bizarre hourlong Donald Trump press conference was Trump – somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but with Trump today’s punchline is tomorrow’s policy – saying he “hope[s]” Russia hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails as Secretary of State:
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said to a room of TV cameras at Trump National Doral. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press…By the way they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 e-mails. I hope they do. They probably have her 33,000 e-mails that she lost and deleted because you’d see some beauties there. So let’s see.”
The immediate reaction across the political spectrum is that it’s insane to publicly hope and urge a hostile foreign power to obtain and release national security secrets. Which it is, but that’s Trump being Trump. What the Clinton campaign did next was make a colossal error:
The Clinton campaign was quick to respond. Said advisor Jake Sullivan: “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. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”
As Sean Davis noted, the Clinton camp just walked right into Trump’s trap, whether or not he knew he was setting one. For the past year, Hillary’s defense of her private email server has been that the whole thing was a nothingburger that put no sensitive information at risk. Originally she claimed that the emails on her server were harmless things like yoga schedules. FBI Director Comey contradicted that, publicly concluding both that there was significant senstive information in the emails and that there was no way to know if they had fallen into hostile hands. And now, this morning, her own campaign admits that it would be “a national security issue” for Russia to gain access to those emails.
Can’t anybody here play this game?