- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 28, 2016

PHILADELPHIA — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says he was being sarcastic when he said Wednesday that he hoped Russia was able to find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails.

“Of course, I’m being sarcastic, and they don’t even know, frankly, if it’s Russia,” Mr. Trump said in an interview for “Fox and Friends” Thursday. “They have no idea if it’s Russia, if it’s China, if it’s somebody else. Who knows who it is?”

“But you have 33,000 emails deleted, and the real problem is what was said on those emails from the Democratic National Committee,” he said. “It’s disgraceful. They talk about religion. They talk about race.”

“They talk about all sorts of things, including women, and what they said on those emails is a disgrace and, they’re just trying to deflect from that,” the businessman said.

Mr. Trump managed to steal some attention away from the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday when he mused during a press conference about Russia potentially coming across the emails Mrs. Clinton’s team says were deleted from the private server she used as secretary of state.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said at a press conference in Florida. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump: I hope hackers got Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails

“If [Russia] hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do,” he said. “They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted. Because you would see some beauties there.”

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign responded by saying that Mr. Trump was essentially encouraging a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent.

Afterward, Mr. Trump’s team said he meant if anyone has the emails, they should share them with law enforcement.

“Trump was clearly saying that if Russia or others have Clinton’s 33,000 illegally deleted emails, they should share them w/ FBI immed.,” Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller said on Twitter Wednesday.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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