Defenders of Donald Trump are trying to claim he was joking when he said at a news conference this morning that he hoped Russia had hacked Hillary Clinton’s email server and that it would expose “the 30,000 emails that are missing.” For instance, here’s Newt Gingrich on Twitter:
The media seems more upset by Trump's joke about Russian hacking than by the fact that Hillary's personal server was vulnerable to Russia
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) July 27, 2016
Now, there are several pieces of evidence out there that show Trump wasn’t joking at all. But one should be enough. Here’s the Washington Post:
“They probably have them. I’d like to have them released. . . . It gives me no pause. If they have them, they have them,” Trump added later when asked if his comments were inappropriate. “If Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I mean, to be honest with you, I’d love to see them.”
That doesn’t sound like a joke to me.
So now we have a major-party presidential candidate—whose ties to Vladimir Putin are already under scrutiny (here is a good overview from the BBC)—inviting Russian intelligence to interfere in the presidential campaign more than it already has. He refuses to release his tax returns, which anti-Trump conservative George Will has pointed out could contain information about his dealings with Russia. And tonight he denied having met Putin, thus flatly contradicting previous statements. (He’s lying, but I don’t know which statement is the lie.)
House Speaker Paul Ryan should rescind his endorsement. Indiana Governor Mike Pence should resign from the ticket. Of course, neither will happen.
This is where we are at in the summer of 2016.