Trump Time Capsule #59: 'I Hope Putin Has Hillary's Emails'

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Without elaboration, I will note for the record something, yet another thing, that to the best of my knowledge has never happened before:

The Republican presidential nominee repeatedly said just now, at a live press conference, that he “hopes” Vladimir Putin and his Russian government have control of emails from Hillary Clinton’s server — emails that, as Clinton’s critics have taken the lead in pointing out, include her time as Secretary of State and contain classified information.

You can see a clip of one of the times he actually said it here:

Here is a quick response from Jonathan Chait at New York Mag. Certainly there will be more to come.

To say it clearly: Nothing remotely like this has happened before. A “hope” that a foreign government, with which the United States is at serious and increasing odds, can penetrate American electronic networks so as to affect the outcome of a U.S. election? How exactly would we distinguish this from treason? (Update: In Twitter comments beginning here, an attorney named Christopher J. Regan explains where you would draw the line between comments like Trump’s and outright treason.)

This is the man the Speaker of the House, the Majority of the Leader of the Senate, and other Constitutional officers and “responsible” Republicans are standing behind.