Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
Though it’s often left out of most conversations about collusion between the Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, the president himself was actively cheerleading for the Kremlin’s cyber warfare tactics in the runup to the election.
And according to a new Indictment from the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller, it looks like the Russians were taking Trump’s directions.
Twelve Russian intelligence agencies have now been charged with a slew of hacking-related crimes in an effort to influence the campaign, but this one particular line jumps off the page of the indictment:
For example, on or about July 27, 2016, the Conspirators attempted after hours to spearfish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office. At or around the same time, they also targeted seventy-six email addresses at the domain for the Clinton Campaign.
This is significant because on the same exact date — July 27, 2016 — then-candidate Trump said at a press conference, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens.”
The “30,000 emails” remark refers to Hillary Clinton’s personal emails as Secretary of State.
And according to the new indictment, the Russians first started trying to hack Clinton’s personal emails on the exact same day.
While some might say it’s a coincidence — there are many dates mentioned in the indictment, after all — but it seems like a pretty major development. And it’s worth noting that no such coincidence would have been possible had Trump not, against all norms and basic standards of American politics, actively rooted for a foreign adversary to hack a former Cabinet member and then-presidential candidate’s private files.
It’s also conceivable that, even if Trump didn’t really mean to be taken seriously, the Russians followed his directions anyway. They might have taken it as a sign that he wouldn’t be interested in pursuing any election interference charges if he won — which has proven to be the case.
But it could be that the most obvious reading of the indictment and Trump’s statements is correct: Trump gave foreign national a direction to commit a crime against the United States, and they listened.
Watch Trump’s comments below:
Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.