If it wasn't clear before now, it should be obvious that Donald Trump thinks he is above the law and above the moral code that most Americans live by. He lies incessantly, he cheats and screws people over in business, and now he thinks he can invite a foreign enemy to engage in cyber attacks on America, both to hurt his political rival and to keep himself in the news cycle - something his narcissism demands. However, as a piece in The Daily Beast notes, Trump may have just committed a felony by inviting such a cyber attack. The man is a menace and must be defeated in November. Here are article highlights:
Did Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump just call for a felony to be committed? On Wednesday, he urged a foreign government to hack an American citizen and release personal emails.“Russia, if you're listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing” from emails that Hillary Clinton turned over to the State Department, Trump said in a lengthy press conference in Doral, Fla. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That will be next. Yes, sir.”
Trump himself has had financial interests in Russia. He has also praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and has said that if Russia were to invade NATO members, the United States might not come to their defense.
Trump’s incendiary comments came on the heels of the theft and leak of emails from the Democratic National Committee, an operation that, as The Daily Beast first reported, U.S. official believe was carried out by the Russian government and may have been designed to help Trump in the polls.
Trump appeared to urge a U.S. adversary suspected of criminal activity essentially to go further and attack his opponent. The comments drew ire from across the national security community.
Trump allies were at pains to explain the nominee’s plea for Russian intervention. Newt Gingrich said Trump had simply made a “joke.”
A top Clinton adviser quickly condemned 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,” aide Jake Sullivan said in a statement. “That’s not hyperbole, those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, added that the call for illegal hacking “shows staggeringly poor judgment even for him.”
“With so many unanswered questions about Trump’s ties to the Kremlin, it’s imperative that Trump immediately release his tax returns and disclose his financial ties to Russia,” Schiff added.
“It’s probably the most egregiously stupid thing I’ve ever heard a party nominee say ever,” said Bradley Moss, a lawyer specializing in national security law.
Moss believes that there’s a legal case to charge Trump for his comments, because he was calling for Russia to take “imminent lawless action,” which is speech not covered by the First Amendment.
Moss added that Trump could theoretically be charged as a conspirator under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
“You could argue what Trump was urging Russia to do was hack Hillary’s server and release the contents to the media—conspiring with them to hack into a private server and release confidential information to the public,” Moss explained.
However, it’s unlikely, Moss continued, because the Department of Justice and FBI are unlikely to want to be “diving into a political nightmare.”
Now that Trump is the GOP presidential nominee, he will be eligible to receive classified intelligence briefings, something that top intelligence officials are sweating over, given Trump’s penchant for talking extemporaneously.
Not knowing his intent, such statements could limit the amount of classified information U.S. officials give to Trump, which he is entitled to as a presidential nominee, an official familiar with the process explained to The Daily Beast. Trump and Clinton will reportedly begin receiving classified briefings after this week’s convention.
As Trump called for Russia to infiltrate Clinton’s servers, some of his fellow Republicans were torching the Kremlin for the DNC hack.
"Every American, without regard to political party, must face this grim reality: While the Obama Administration idles with empty platitudes and fantasy resets, Mr. Putin’s Soviet-style aggression has escalated to levels that were unimaginable just a week ago,” Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said in a statement. “America is digitally exposed. The United States must take serious offensive and defensive actions now. Russia must face real consequences."
Trump’s cozyness with Putin and his advisers’ ties to Russia highlight a growing chasm within the Republican Party, which for the last 35 years has lionized Ronald Reagan’ as the ultimate cold warrior who stood up to Soviet expansionism and aggression.
Skepticism of authoritarian governments—and Putin in particular—has been a key feature among conservative foreign policy thinkers. Trump appears to be trying to drag the party toward Putin almost on his own, and traditional forces are pulling back.