The Missouri Democratic Party attacked incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt for remaining silent on controversial remarks made Wednesday by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who urged Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails and expose them.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said at a news conference Wednesday morning. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
When a reporter asked him whether he had any qualms about asking a foreign power to hack into his opponent’s emails, Trump replied, “No, it gives me no pause.”
Blunt’s office in Washington said he was on the road and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
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The Missouri Republican, who serves on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has endorsed Trump.
Blunt is fighting to keep his Senate seat in a surprisingly tight race against Democrat Jason Kander, an Afghan War veteran.
Will Baskin-Gerwitz, Missouri Democratic Party spokesman, criticized Blunt in a statement for his “unwavering support” of the GOP nominee, even as Trump calls for cyberattacks on Americans.
“As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee who routinely mentions that he receives updates with grave national security information, can Sen. Blunt look Missourians in the eye and say that he wants Donald Trump receiving those updates when he’s just personally asked Russia to hack an American?” Baskin-Gerwitz said in a statement.
“If Sen. Blunt wants to retain any shred of credibility on foreign policy, he needs to immediately condemn the newest threat to America’s international standing: his own presidential candidate,” he said.
Missouri’s Democratic senator, on the other hand, wasted no time in slamming Trump for his remarks.
Claire McCaskill, a Clinton supporter who serves on the Senate’s committees on homeland security and armed services, expressed her outrage from her party’s national convention in Philadelphia.
“The notion that a candidate for the presidency of the United States would invite Russia to hack a U.S. government official is ridiculous bordering on treasonous,” McCaskill said.
Other Republicans in the Kansas and Missouri congressional delegations who have served on committees on intelligence, homeland security or armed services also maintained radio silence Wednesday or distanced themselves from their presidential nominee’s comments.
I’m not at all sure he’s not joking.
Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan.
Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee who endorsed Trump at last week’s Republican National Convention, was “out of pocket” Wednesday and unavailable for comment, his spokeswoman Sarah Little said in an email.
The office of Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Missouri Republican who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, declined to comment. Her spokesman, Kyle Buckles, said the congresswoman was traveling in Missouri.
Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Wichita, Kansas, who serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview that he thought Trump might have been speaking in jest.
“I’m not at all sure he’s not joking,” Pompeo said.
“Of course we shouldn’t encourage the Russians to hack into anybody’s email,” Pompeo said, “but this wouldn’t have been an issue if Hillary Clinton hadn’t put classified information on her private server.”
He said the irony was that Clinton had invited the Russians to take her emails too, by keeping them on an insecure server for years.
“She essentially invited the Russians, the Iranians and Chinese to steal United States classified material, endangering our soldiers, sailors and Marines, and then she lied to the American people about it,” Pompeo said.
The congressman said he stood by his support for Trump.
“He’ll ultimately have to clarify or explain what he was saying, but I’m confident that Mr. Trump and Mr. (Mike) Pence both believe that protecting private citizens’ information from foreign government hacking is of paramount importance.”
As a committee member who receives classified briefings, Pompeo said he had concerns when anyone “invites the Russians to engage in misadventures.”
But he added, “the risk to the United States of America pales in comparison to the risk that Secretary Clinton poses to America for her wanton disregard for America’s national security laws. It’s not remotely close.”