“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” then-candidate Donald Trump said at a July 27, 2016, press conference in Florida, urging Russian hackers to work to find emails belonging to his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
“I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens.”
Although he later said he was speaking in jest, the comment was made the same day that Russian state hackers are now alleged to have made fresh attempts to hack Clinton campaign emails.
According to an indictment handed up Friday against 12 Russian military officers by special counsel Robert Mueller, the hackers on July 27, 2016, “attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time [emphasis added] email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office.”
“At or around the same time, they also targeted seventy-six email addresses at the domain for the Clinton Campaign,” Mueller wrote.
Spear-phishing refers to the practice of attempting to steal a person’s password or gain access to their computer.
According to the special counsel, the 12 Russian hackers targeted more than 300 individuals with the Clinton campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic National Committee.
Mueller alleges they began sending out spear-phishing emails “by at least March 2016.”
Trump made the “Russia, if you’re listening” remark at a press conference at his Trump National Doral club.
He also posted on Twitter, urging Russia “or any other country or person” to release Clinton emails.
At the time, Democrats were left aghast by Trump’s comments, with Christine Quinn, the vice chair of the New York State Democratic Committee, saying the remarks were “almost treasonous.”
Clinton’s senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan issued a statement, blasting 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. That’s not hyperbole, those are just the facts,” Sullivan said. “This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”
The following day Trump told Fox News, “Of course I was being sarcastic.”
He also said that he did not know who was responsible for the hack.
“They have no idea if it’s Russia, if it’s China, if it’s somebody else,” he said. “Who knows who it is?”