July 27, 2016: Trump says he hopes Russia or someone else has Clinton’s deleted emails; he wants them given to the FBI.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at Trump National Doral, Wednesday, July 27, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump speaks during a news conference at Trump National Doral on July 27, 2016, in Tampa, Florida. (Credit: Evan Vucci / The Associated Press)

In a press conference, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says about Russia and Clinton’s emails, “By the way, if they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do. They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted.”

He also addresses the country directly: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you can find the 33,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Trump is then asked by NBC News reporter Katy Tur, “Do you have any qualms about asking a foreign government, Russia, China, anybody, to interfere, to hack into a system of anybody’s in this country?”

He replies, “It’s up to the president. Let the president talk to them. Look, here’s the problem, here’s the problem, Katy. He has no respect-”

Tur interrupts him to say, “You said, ‘I welcome them to find those 30,000 emails-‘”

But Trump then interrupts her to say, “Well, they probably have them. I’d like to have them released.”

Tur asks, “Does that not give you pause?”

He replies, “Nope, gives me no pause. If they have them, they have them.”

Later in the day, Trump posts an additional comment on Twitter: “If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!”

Clinton’s senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan issues a critical statement in response to Trump’s comments: “This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.” (Talkingpointsmemo.com, 7/27/2016)

Also later in the day, Trump spokesperson Jason Miller says that “clearly saying” Russia should share emails with the FBI. “To be clear, Mr. Trump did not call on, or invite, Russia or anyone else to hack Hillary Clinton’s email today.” (The Hill, 7/27/2016)

The next day, Trump calls the suggestion that Russia is trying to help him by leaking the emails is a “joke.” He also says that when he said he hoped Russian hackers found Clinton’s emails and shared them with the FBI,  he was only “being sarcastic.” (The Hill, 7/28/2016)

July 27, 2016: Ex-CIA head Panetta questions Trump’s loyalty after Trump asks Russia to help him win election.

Leon Panetta (Credit: ChipSomodevilla / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

Leon Panetta (Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta criticizes Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for his recent comments encouraging the Russian government to find and leak Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails from when she was secretary of state.

Panetta says, “You have a presidential candidate who is, in fact, asking the Russians to engage in American politics. I think that’s beyond the pale… he is truly not qualified to be president of the United States.”

Panetta served as both CIA director and defense secretary under President Obama. His comments come on the same day he gives a speech to support Clinton at the Democratic National Convention. (Raw Story, 7/27/2016)

July 27, 2016: US intelligence hasn’t found proof that the Russian government is responsible for WikiLeaks getting recently hacked emails.

The Washington Post reports that “Intelligence officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an issue under investigation, said there is little doubt that agents of the Russian government hacked the Democratic National Committee [DNC], and the White House was informed months ago of [Russia’s] culpability.” However, days after WikiLeaks posted almost 20,000 DNC emails, the Post adds, “The intelligence community, the officials said, has not reached a conclusion about who passed the emails to WikiLeaks.”

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Former NSA director Keith Alexander, testifying before Congress in 2013. (Credit: The Associated Press)

One unnamed US official says, “We have not drawn any evidentiary connection to any Russian intelligence service and WikiLeaks — none.”

Former NSA Director Keith Alexander says, “Determining with confidence who was behind it — if the Russians were the hackers, seeing them pass that data to WikiLeaks — is probably much more difficult than attributing it to the initial hacker. That’s a tough one — especially because there are different ways of passing that information, not all electronic.”

Furthermore, even if Russia is behind the leaks to WikiLeaks, the motivation is unclear. A key question is if Russia is attempting to influence the November 2016 US presidential election. Michael Hayden, former director of both the NSA and the CIA, states, “Frankly, I don’t think they’re motivated by thinking they can affect the election itself.” He thinks the Russians may be flexing their muscles “to demonstrate that they can — not necessarily to make [Donald] Trump win or Hillary [Clinton] lose.”

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Leo Taddeo (Credit: Twitter)

Leo Taddeo, a former FBI agent who worked with cybersecurity operations, says, “This is not [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin trying to help Trump. I think they were messaging Hillary Clinton, telling her that they can get in the way of her election if she doesn’t show some flexibility in her position toward them.”

Representative Adam Schiff (D) believes that if Russia is ultimately responsible, the Obama administration “should make it known publicly and forcefully. Even if they’re not able to lay out the evidence because it would disclose sources and methods, they should make the attribution.” (The Washington Post, 7/27/2016)