Donald Trump is facing increasing criticism for saying he hoped Russia would hack Hillary Clinton’s emails. Conservative commentators condemned Trump’s ‘reckless’ comments about America’s ‘geopolitical adversary’ after Trump said he hoped to form a close relationship with Vladimir Putin.
Trump has praised Putin before, comparing him favorably to President Obama. His recent statements go well beyond personal admiration, however. It is inconceivable for a presidential candidate to encourage a foreign power to launch cyber attacks on US politicians. Since the emails in question were sent while Clinton was secretary of state, Trump has suggested Russian hacking of a federal official. This is very close to a treasonable statement.
Journalist Carl Bernstein, part of the team that broke the Watergate story and brought down Richard Nixon, said Trump’s statement should be a ‘disqualifying event’ while Speaker Paul Ryan was quick to state that Russia is a threat to US interests and global security.
Last night’s Democratic National Convention speeches took aim at Trump, highlighting his demagogic approach to issues. Trump has attacked Obama and Clinton for ‘weakness’ and unleashing ‘chaos’ in the Middle East but his own comments on Russia will damage his credibility on foreign policy matters.
Trump has suggested reforms that could endanger NATO, the world’s most important military alliance, and at times suggested the US could pull out altogether. His speech at the Republican convention in Cleveland signaled a sea change in GOP foreign policy. Republican foreign policy hawks are increasingly worried about Trump’s isolationist approach.