Donald Trump said on Wednesday he hoped Russia hacked into Hillary Clinton’s private email servers.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said during a press conference in Doral, Florida. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
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
Russia has been accused of meddling in the U.S. presidential election following the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers. There have also been allegations Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to hack the DNC.
Trump, however, said that he has “never spoken” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I’ve never spoken to him. I don’t know anything about him other than he will respect me,” Trump added. “I have nothing to do with Russia.”
“By the way, if they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do,” Trump noted. “They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted. Because you’d see some beauties there.”
The Republican presidential nominee is referring to an FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of a personal email address while she served as Secretary of State. Clinton last year revealed at a press conference she deleted half of her emails about personal matters.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch eventually decided not to pursue criminal charges against her.
“If it is Russia … but it’s probably China, or it could be somebody sitting in his bed,” Trump said at the Wednesday conference. “Putin and the leaders throughout the world have no respect for our country.”
But then he said, “it’s probably not Russia.”
Trump said if elected president, he’d be “much better for U.S.-Russian relations,” adding that he’s “not going to tell Putin what to do. Why should I tell Putin what to do?”
“He said one nice thing about me,” Trump said of Putin.
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, later released a 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,” the statement read.
“That said, the Democrats singularly focusing on who might be behind it and not addressing the basic fact that they’ve been exposed as a party who not only rigs the government, but rigs elections while literally accepting cash for federal appointments is outrageous,” he added.
Clinton’s campaign released a statement on Trump’s comments.
“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,” Jake Sullivan, a Clinton spokesperson said.