Of all the over-the-top comments that Donald Trump has uttered during what already seems like an overly long campaign season, nothing could possibly be more irresponsible than his open invitation to a foreign power to hack the emails of his rival for the presidency. What next? Hack our voting machines?
In case you missed it, Mr. Trump invited Russia — Russia! — to meddle in the campaign for the White House by illegally unearthing Hillary Clinton’s emails and making them public.
His brazen declaration at a Doral news conference on Wednesday was clear and unequivocal: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
He was referring to the emails that former Secretary of State Clinton captured on her own server, on which she also received and sent official government emails — including some designated as classified — that Ms. Clinton categorized as “personal” and thus were not turned over to the FBI for investigation.
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Regardless of what one thinks of either Ms. Clinton or her bad judgment in this episode, inviting one of this country’s main adversaries — or any other country, come to think of it — to engage in cyberespionage against a fellow American is reprehensible.
For months now, Mr. Trump has been slyly winking at Russia’s dictatorial leader, Vladimir Putin. Mr. Trump appears to like decisive autocrats because they’re, well, decisive, and the Russians are overjoyed at the prospect of having an American president who appears not to think much of NATO, the security alliance that kept Moscow’s ambitions in check throughout the Cold War and helped bring down the Soviet Union.
Mr. Trump displayed his contempt for NATO — or was it just mere ignorance? — when he suggested that he was willing to ignore the United States’ commitment to protect member nations from outside attack if he believed they had failed to pay their dues. More recently, he went further by declaring that if Russia invaded one of the neighboring Baltic countries — known as the “captive nations” when they were occupied by the Red Army — he’d first have to consider whether they have fulfilled their financial obligations to NATO before defending them.
Suggesting that NATO countries could do more to defend themselves is one thing. But saying that as president he might ignore America’s international treaty obligations (against a bully who has already seized parts of Ukraine and Georgia, and plainly has ambitions to expand) imperils this nation’s security structure and damages America’s reputation with its allies.
Now comes the open invitation to Russia to meddle in our politics. Fortunately, little is likely to come of it. FBI Director James Comey said in sworn testimony that there is no evidence Ms. Clinton’s server was ever hacked by anyone. Russia is suspected, however, of being behind the Democratic National Committee hack that was revealed just in time to spoil the opening of the party’s national convention, a move that the Trump camp relished.
Nothing can possibly excuse or mitigate the encouragement Mr. Trump offered to Russia. Either the brash billionaire doesn’t know better or his thirst for power knows no bounds. Or both. Whatever the case, it is the best evidence yet that he has no business running for president of this country. He is unworthy of even one American vote.