If this is a Manchurian Candidate thing, it lacks a certain sense of subtlety.
All signs point to the WikiLeaks dump of Democratic National Committee emails —the bunch that showed Party HQ seeming to scheme against the democratic socialist Bernie Sanders — coming from hackers deployed by Russian intelligence services.
So, there’s that.
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What’s more, Wikileaks honcho Julian Assange is no fan of Hillary Clinton. He thinks she’s too hawkish and believes that, as secretary of state, she pushed for Assange to be indicted after WikiLeaks released diplomatic cables from the State Department.
Making the DNC emails public was bad for Team Hillary.
It clouded the opening of her convention. It riled up the Bernie-or-bust activists just as it looked like they might say they, too, were with her. It fed the notion that she’s part of a political establishment that rigs the system against upstarts.
And it gave Trump and the Republicans yet another opportunity to talk about the other emails, the tens of thousands that went through her private server — a misstep that didn’t bring charges, but did prompt multiple investigations and a very public scolding of her from the head of the FBI.
Wednesday morning, Trump hailed reporters to a press conference and said:
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails” — messages deleted from her private server that Clinton has said were personal, not State Department business — “that are missing,” Trump said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Donald Trump says a lot of things, and in ways that have so far proven to be very politically powerful. He’s often said some statements were said in jest, or weren’t to be taken literally. So a reporter followed up.
Did Trump really mean to ask a foreign country — a rival, no less — to hack his political opponent? Didn’t that idea give him pause?
“No,” Trump replied, “it gives me no pause.”
A day before, conservative stalwart and member of the Never-Trump camp George Will had said from his Fox News Channel chair that suggested that Trump isn’t releasing his tax returns because they might expose some Russian skeletons.
“Perhaps one more reason why we’re not seeing his tax returns — because he is deeply involved in dealing with Russian oligarchs and others,” Will said. “Whether that’s good, bad or indifferent, it’s probably the reasonable surmise.”
The website Red State, also conservative and also not wild about Trump, headlined its story on the candidate’s latest comments: “Trump Openly Asking For Russia To Breach American Sovereignty.”
And that was from the right. The reaction elsewhere was generally also a little amazed.