Donald Trump has issued a novel defense of his plea for the Russian state to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails: He was being sarcastic.
Asked Thursday morning by Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade whether Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook was right to cast the quip as a national security issue, Trump was dismissive.
“You have to be kidding,” he said. “His client, his person deleted 33,000 emails illegally. You look at that. And when I’m being sarcastic with something. . . .”
“Are you being sarcastic?” Kilmeade asked.
“Of course I’m being sarcastic,” Trump said. “But you have 33,000 emails deleted, and the real problem is what was said on those emails from the Democratic National Committee. You take look at what was said on those emails, it’s disgraceful.”
The call for Russian involvement set off concern among leading politicians and national security officials across the political spectrum.
It also again drew attention to the Trump campaign’s Russian connections. Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort has made millions of dollars through business deals with pro-Russia oligarchs. He also advised the Putin-aligned president of Ukraine whose 2014 overthrow triggered Russian intervention there.
Kilmeade pressed Trump on how he would act in the face of Russian aggression.
“I’m not going to tell you what I’d do. Why would I tell you something like that,” the candidate asked. “No, no. You got to keep it a little bit secret.”
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Louisa Loveluck