Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump held a press conference in Florida today (July 27), one day after rival Hillary Clinton clinched the Democratic nomination in Philadelphia. The focus was foreign policy and national security, particularly US funding for NATO, which Trump has pledged to withdraw for countries that do not “pay their fair share,” in his words.
According to reporters in attendance, he also publicly called on the Russian hackers allegedly responsible for the recent leak of DNC emails to launch another cyber-attack on the United States:
"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you find the 33,000 emails that are missing. I think you'll be rewarded mightily by our press!" - Trump— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) July 27, 2016
DORAL, Fla. — Trump directly addresses Russia — “if you’re listening” — and calls on them to find Hillary’s missing 30,000 emails.— Ashley Parker (@AshleyRParker) July 27, 2016
It marks perhaps the first instance in which a major-party candidate for the US presidency has actively sought assistance from a foreign power.
Trump has just publicly called on Russia to cyber-invade the United States to help get him elected: talk about high crimes & misdemeanors.— Philip Gourevitch (@PGourevitch) July 27, 2016
And it’s not a stretch to think there might be some unsavory links between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Campaign chairman Paul Manafort was reportedly an unofficial consultant for ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, noted for pro-Russian leanings and has taken refuge in the Russian city of Rostov following the Orange Revolution.
Trump went on to reject the notion of collaboration with Moscow. “I have nothing to do with Russia,” he insisted, claiming that the closest interaction he’s had with the country was flipping a $40 million house in Palm Beach to a Russian buyer for $100 million. In the same breath, he denied any business dealings with Russian interests, despite claims that the Trump SoHo hotel in New York City was developed with, as the New York Times reports, “undisclosed involvement of convicted felons and financing from questionable sources in Russia and Kazakhstan.”
Trump’s campaign also notably modified the Republican National Convention platform to exclude criticism of Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. That, coupled with his clear distaste for NATO and the European Union, makes him an easy favorite for Putin, regardless of any active involvement in the 2016 presidential race.