Donald Trump said Thursday morning that he was being “sarcastic” about asking Russians to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails from her tenure as secretary of state.
He also said that he didn’t know who had hacked into the Democratic National Committee’s emails.
“Of course I am being sarcastic,” Trump told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade in an interview that posted Thursday morning. “And they don’t even know frankly if it's Russia. They have no idea if it's Russia, if it's China, if it's somebody else. Who knows who it is.”
Trump set off a firestorm Wednesday when he appeared to encourag Russia to hack into Clinton’s emails.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said to a room full of reporters at Trump National Doral. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
FBI Director James Comey criticized Clinton’s use of emails stored on a private server, but the Justice Department declined to prosecute earlier this month. Clinton’s lawyers had turned over thousands of work-related emails for the investigation, but deleted thousands that they said were personal.
Trump also commented Wednesday about the DNC’s more than 19,000 leaked emails that were published by WikiLeaks Friday. The emails showed that staff were working to help elect Clinton rather than Bernie Sanders, leading chair U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, to announce she would step down. The Clinton campaign alleged that Russia had hacked the DNC emails to help Trump.
Kilmeade also asked Trump about his comments on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Kilmeade: “When you look at Vladimir Putin you said he is a great leader of his country but he is also a guy....”.
Trump replied: “No I didn’t say that. I said he is a better leader than Obama.... If we could get along with Russia I think that would be a good thing, not a bad thing.”
Trump also said that Russia has taken actions such as invading Ukraine or Russian aircraft coming close to American ships “because they have no respect for our leader.” Trump declared if he was president “I don’t think they’d be doing that for one minute. Because I think they will respect me.”