By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Trump’s comments about Russia and Clinton were no joke

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:

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.

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  1. Ron Ziemba

    I usually agree with you, Dan, but you need to get a grip on yourself on this issue. “No joke”? Pleeeeeze! And I’m not even a Trump supporter. Don’t you remember Reagan’s “evil empire” open-mic joke? Or didn’t you consider THAT a joke either? Lighten up, man!

    • Dan Kennedy

      What do you make of Trump’s follow-up comment to the Washington Post? Or are we supposed to pay no attention to that?

      • Ron Ziemba

        So I, for example, could make that “follow-up” statement that Trump made — which I would, of course, because I WOULD love to see those emails — but Trump can’t because, well, because he’s Trump? Wouldn’t YOU love to see those missing emails, Dan?

        • Dan Kennedy

          You’re forcing yourself to overlook way too much, Ron. You’re pretty isolated on this. Other than an occasional Gingrich, there’s been a huge bipartisan outcry. As there should be.

  2. Is Trump thinking that if Russia is hacking Clinton or DNC emails for its own reasons, his egging them on or trying to benefit from their activity is not the same thing as telling them to do it in the first place? I mean in a world in which government corruption has been defined so narrowly by our Supreme Court, I wonder if people like Trump figure that they can push the envelope further than before. Given his remark about punishing women who have abortions, I think Trump has an impaired feel for where most people draw lines.

  3. My only comfort is that Ryan and McConnell are probably banging their heads against their walls while their publicists are coming up with a spin. Oh, and Christie is probably blinking back tears.

  4. Mike Rice

    I’m left thinking the late, great George Carlin was on to something when he said, “I don’t think we should be governing ourselves. What we need is a king, and every now and then if the king’s not doing a good job, we kill him.”
    I miss George Carlin.

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