Rep. Engel: Russia Trying to Influence Election

Russia was trying to interfere in the U.S. presidential elections by allegedly hacking the DNC email system and releasing it on the week of the Democratic National Convention, the ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs suggested on Wednesday.

“It makes you wonder of the Russians are trying to influence our political system on [electing a new] president,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) said during a panel on defining America’s role in global affairs hosted by the American Jewish Committee in Philadelphia. “It wouldn’t surprise me if they were; it wouldn’t surprise me if more things come out.”

Donald Trump gave credence to that claim during a live press conference in Florida on Wednesday. “If they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do,” Trump said, encouraging the Russians to release them. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” the Republican presidential nominee said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Later on, when asked if he was really urging a foreign country to hack into Clinton’s private email server to meddle in the presidential election, Trump told the reporter to “be quiet.” Adding, “That’s up to the president. Let the president talk to them.”

The Clinton campaign immediately accused Trump of actively encouraging a foreign power to conduct espionage against his opponent. “That’s not hyperbole, those are just the facts,” Clinton’s senior 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.”

“For someone running for the presidency, frankly, to ask the Russians to do something like that is absolutely disgraceful,” Rep. Engel said.

Following the press conference, the Trump campaign released a statement by vice presidential candidate Mike Pence warning the Russians that they could face “serious consequences” if they are behind the hacking and interfering in the elections.

But Pence went on toe accuse the Democrats of “singularly focusing on who might be behind it and not addressing the basic fact that they’ve been exposed as a party who not only rigs the government, but rigs elections while literally accepting cash for federal appointments,” which is, in his words, outrageous.

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