Donald Trump Now Claims His Encouragement Of Russian Hackers Was ‘Sarcasm’

In an interview with Fox and Friends‘ Brian Kilmeade that aired Thursday morning, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump responded to outrage over his Wednesday comments that seemed to encourage Russian hackers to find Hillary Clinton’s “33,000 missing emails.”

Kilmeade opened the discussion by reading Trump a statement from Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook. “This is a national security issue now,” Mook said. “The idea that you’d have any American calling for a foreign power to commit espionage in the U.S. for the purpose of somehow changing an election, I think, that we’re now in a national security space.”

Trump laughed it off. “You have to be kidding,” he said. “His client, his person, deleted 33,000 emails illegally. You look at that. And when I’m being sarcastic with something –” Kilmeade interrupted, reaching for clarification: “Are you being sarcastic?” Trump then explained himself:

Trump: Of course I’m being sarcastic. But you have 33,000 emails deleted, and the real problem is what was said on those emails from the Democratic National Committee. You take look at what was said on those emails, it’s disgraceful. They talk about religion, they talk about race, they talk about all sorts of things, including women. It’s a disgrace.

Kilmeade: When you look at Vladimir Putin, you say he’s a great leader for his country, but he’s also a guy —

Trump: No, I didn’t say that, I said he’s a better leader than Obama. Because Obama is not a leader. So he’s certainly doing a better job than Obama is. And that’s all. You have to understand, if we could get along with Russia, I think that would be a good thing, not a bad thing. We don’t get along with Russia.

Trump also believes that Russia will respect him a lot more than Obama, but when Kilmeade asked Trump whether he would answer Russia with force if they were to invade Ukraine, Trump got visibly angry. “I’m not going to tell you what I’d do. Why would I tell you a thing like that?” he asked. “Wouldn’t that be crazy to tell you what I’d do? You react at the time. Part of the problem with this country is they go and they say, ‘We’re going to do this, we’re going to attack here, we’re going to send this many men.’ No, no. You got to keep it a little bit secret.” In other words, Trump’s foreign policy plan will remain a mystery. Sounds encouraging.

(Via Talking Points Memo)