The Hillary Clinton campaign accused Donald Trump on Wednesday of encouraging espionage when he publicly asked Russia to "find" and release the former secretary of state’s missing emails.
"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," Clinton senior policy advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement.
He added: "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."
At a press conference Wednesday, Trump was asked about the Democratic National Committee hack and made an open appeal to Russia.
"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 [Clinton] emails that are missing," Trump said. "I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let's see if that happens. That'll be nice."
He later doubled down on his comments in a tweet:
If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton's 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2016
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, seemed to distance himself from the comments in a statement.
"The FBI will get to the bottom of who is behind the hacking," Pence said in the statement. "If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences."
Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, issued a statement echoing Pence.
"Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug," Buck said. "Putin should stay out of this election."
Clinton was formally nominated for president Tuesday by the Democratic Party. She is scheduled to formally accept the nomination during a prime speech Thursday at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
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