Miami, Florida USA- In a freewheeling and unusual news conference, even for him, Donald Trump directly called on Russia to find the estimated 30,000 emails that Hillary Clinton deleted from a controversial private email server she used as secretary of state.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” the Republican presidential nominee said, staring directly into the bank of television cameras set up at a golf course he owns outside Miami, Fla. “I think you will probably be mightily rewarded by our press.”
It was a striking moment in a US election that has consistently broken the barriers of political tradition. It came after Trump faced intense questioning from reporters over his relationship to Russia amid allegations the country might be trying to influence the outcome of the presidential election on his behalf.
Federal investigators are looking into allegations that Russian intelligence agencies were behind the recent hacking of computer servers at the Democratic National Committee. Last week, Wikileaks released a trove of embarrassing emails among top DNC officials suggesting they were actively biased against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ primary challenge against Clinton. The leak prompted Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign as DNC chair. Wikileaks has suggested there are more damaging emails to come.
On Wednesday, Trump called suggestions voiced by Democrats and the Clinton campaign that Russia was actively trying to sway the campaign on his behalf “a total deflection.” He pointedly denied reports that Trump Organization projects have been funded by Russian business investors. He also denied having any relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he’s previously spoken warmly of.
“I’ve never met Putin,” Trump insisted. “I don’t know who Putin is.”