The hacking of Democratic National Committee emails took a new turn on Wednesday when the US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called on Russia to hack 30,000 missing emails of his rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s latest call on the Russian President to track down thousands of missing emails has drawn sharp criticism from the Democrats.
"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," Clinton's senior policy advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement.
"This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue."
Denying any connection with the hacked emails of the Democratic National Committee, Trump cast doubt over the allegations that Russia was behind the hacked emails of Democrats.
He said he has never spoken to or met the Russian President Vladimir Putin. "I have nothing to do with Russia," he insisted.
"If it is Russia, which it probably isn't, but if it is Russia, it's bad for a different reason, it shows how little respect they have for our country," said Trump in reference to the Democratic National Committee email hack.
He then turned his guns on Clinton's email scandal dating back to her time as secretary of state and the more than 30,000 emails which she deleted on grounds that they were personal and not related to her job as America's top diplomat.
"I will tell you this, Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press," Trump said.
Russia has denied that it had any role in the hacked emails of the Democratic Party that has stirred fresh controversy between Russia and Washington.
Russia has never interfered in the election campaigns of other countries, terming the reports as unfounded. Some individuals in the US want to use the controversy for electoral purposes, a spokesman for the Kremlin Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
— Andrew Osborn (@A_Osborn) July 26, 2016
The Republican’s US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump and the Russian President Vladimir Putin have exchanged good wishes. Both the leaders have recently praised each other and this closeness is said to be a major reason the Democrats believe that Russia is supporting Donald Trump’s candidature.
Rumors that Putin was behind the leak of DNC emails are not just rumors. It's the working hypothesis of the FBI. https://t.co/AjE9l960pj
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) July 25, 2016
US President on Democratic hacked emails issue
The Democrats suspect Russia may try to use the hacked documents of the Democratic National Committee to influence the US Presidential electoral process. US President Barack Obama and other top officials have been hinting that Russia was behind the hacking issue.
US President Barack Obama has publicly commented on the email hack.
— Uma Pemmaraju (@UmaPemmaraju) July 27, 2016
Asked whether Moscow was trying to influence the presidential election, Obama said, "Anything's possible."
"What the motives were in terms of the leaks, all that — I can't say directly," Obama told NBC News. "What I do know is that Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin."
Obama said he was basing his assessment on Trump's own comments and the fact that the GOP presidential nominee has "gotten pretty favorable coverage back in Russia."
The U.S. knows that "Russians hack our systems — not just government systems, but private systems."
Report: Intelligence agencies have 'high confidence' Russia was behind Democratic Party hack, officials say - NYT https://t.co/J50bg3PHdd
— Breaking Politics (@breakingpol) July 27, 2016
Russia’s response to President Obama
Responding to the US President’s interview with NBC, Peskov said: "Moscow is at pains to avoid any words that could be interpreted as direct or indirect interference in the election process.”
"We see that the Russian card is in the red corner on the writing table of all Washington politicians during the election campaign, and that very often they make it a trump card in their game."
"This reminds me of a company where they tell each other horror stories and then start being frightened of their own stories," said Peskov.