Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is facing a backlash over comments during a Wednesday press conference in Florida, in which he urged Russian hackers to break into rival Hillary Clinton’s emails.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said during the press conference. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.
Trump also expressed the hope he’d be well liked by Russian president Vladimir Putin, and also said Putin had used a racial slur against President Barack Obama — a claim that hasn’t been verified.
“He mentioned the N-word one time,” Trump said, referencing Putin. “I was shocked to hear him mention the N-word. You know what the N-word is, right? He mentioned it. I was shocked. He has a total lack of respect for President Obama. Number one, he doesn’t like him. And number two, he doesn’t respect him. I think he’s gonna respect your president if I’m elected, and I hope he likes me.”
The comments came as Trump is increasingly under scrutiny for alleged ties to the Russian government.
On Wednesday, members of Trump’s own political party lashed out at him.
David Frum, conservative commentator and former speechwriter for George W. Bush, accused Trump of being purposely pro-Putin as opposed to clumsily making the comments by accident.
“This is not a series of stumbles,” Frum wrote on Twitter. “This is a considered policy approach rolled out over a period of months.”
Three hours ago, Trump was posing as an outraged patriot. https://t.co/BtAIs66Euf
— David Frum (@davidfrum) July 27, 2016
Noah Rothman, a conservative columnist for Commentary Magazine also accused Trump of being cozy with Russia and being sympathetic to the Russian government’s geopolitical interests.
Flirt with extorting allies. Repurpose NATO. Say you won’t defend the Baltics. Pledge to recognize occupied Ukraine. What’s unclear here?
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) July 27, 2016
He didn’t say “Clinton may be compromised.” He said, “Clinton is compromised, and it’d be nice if our geopolitical adversary helped me win.” — Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) July 27, 2016
Amanda Carpenter, a former staffer for Trump’s chief rival in the primaries, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, called Trump’s comments troubling. “If Trump wants Russia to hack into emails for his political benefit, no reason to believe he wouldn’t hack into your email to do the same,” she tweeted, adding, “The leaks are an act of cyber warfare. Trump should treat it as such. Not like this is the page 6 gossip page. Please!”
Ben Howe, another conservative writer who has been anti-Trump, tweeted, “The guy saying he’ll build a wall to protect American sovereignty is openly hoping Russia infiltrates us.”
Rick Tyler, a conservative commentator for MSNBC, tweeted Trump’s campaign symbol with a sickle and hammer and the words, “Make Russia great again.”
“Unite with Russia? Trump aligns himself with an existential threat to the US and encourages more espionage,” he tweeted.
Trump’s comments seemed to send House Speaker Paul Ryan scrambling. Ryan has endorsed Trump. But on Wednesday, his spokesperson released this statement: “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.”