Vladimir Putin
Credit: Kremlin.ru/Wikimedia Commons

At this point, we don’t know if WikiLeaks is planning on releasing more embarrassing and inconvenient emails or if all the emails that get dumped will be stolen from the Democrats. Perhaps some problematic Republican emails have been pilfered, too. What we do know, though, is that prominent Republicans are setting Hillary Clinton up to take the blame if more evidence of hacking takes place. Here’s RNC Chairman Reince Priebus talking on the Hugh Hewitt radio show:

Asked whether he expected some of Clinton’s personal emails to leak from her server, Priebus said, “Boy, I don’t know.”

“Certainly it seems like we hear these rumors that they have these emails,” he said, referring to hackers. “Quite frankly if it’s national security you don’t want to see that happening. Hillary Clinton put our country at grave risk, and hopefully we don’t get to the point where those are released. But her sloppiness could lead to something very bad.”

Of course, the DNC wasn’t using a server in Hillary Clinton’s house, and there’s no reason to believe that her emails have been hacked by the Russians. According the forensic investigation, there’s no evidence that they were, anyway. But Priebus wanted to blame her “sloppiness” for any future thefts regardless of where they were stolen from.

Reince also made a curious prediction to reporter Andrea Mitchell at the Democratic National Convention on Monday:

Reince said, “I believe that here are more emails coming. I think this is just the beginning. I don’t believe Wikileaks or these folks, whoever they are, simply released the emails all at once without more to come. I think there’s more to come and I think they should be prepared for more excitement in the email world this week.”

Mitchell followed up,”Do you know something about it?”

Priebus denied knowing anything, but speculated on the motives of people that “like to play games” and said usually more do follow.

Thus, the Democrats were duly forewarned, so it should be no surprise that they sent out  Joe Biden and Tim Kaine this morning to make a little preemptive counterattack. And it’s not that hard of a case to make. Just looking at the Putin Times is enough to convince me that Russia is now a propaganda organ of the Trump campaign. It’s obvious enough that even George Will is out there saying that Trump’s ties to Russia are the real reason why he won’t release his tax returns.

The pushback was sufficient enough that Trump was repeatedly forced to respond during his press conference today, and he seems to have badly ad libbed the talking points Reince Priebus was using because he went further than predicting that there will be more leaks.

“Russia, if you’re listening: I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said, directly addressing a country with which American relations are currently quite frosty. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens.”

I link Trump’s remarks to what Preibus has been saying because the DNC emails have no actual relationship to Hillary Clinton’s emails or any emails from within the State Department. If Wikileaks has more DNC emails that they’re holding back, that won’t shock anyone since they didn’t release a complete set. But, if they’re holding Clinton’s deleted emails, that would be a major story.

Trump seems to have gotten a smear campaign mixed up with something real, and he wasn’t just asking Russia to release everything they have from the DNC. He was asking them to go find (if they haven’t already) emails that Clinton wrote as Secretary of State.

These are actually distinct things, although neither reflects well on Trump. In the first case, he’s nakedly hoping to benefit politically from the Russians breaking into the DNC, G. Gordon Liddy-style. In the latter case, he’s inviting a foreign power to do their best to hack into his rival’s emails and steal personal and governmental communications.

What’s astonishing is that he did this in a press conference where is objective was to deny accusations that he is colluding with Vladimir Putin and in hock to him. His opponents couldn’t have possibly provided a more convincing and compelling case that he is than Trump did himself.

The Clinton campaign probably cannot believe that this actually happened:

“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 senior policy advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement.

He added: “That’s not hyperbole, those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”

Jake Sullivan could have gone further because Trump wasn’t just calling for espionage against his opponent, but against U.S. government cybersecurity and U.S. government records. If Trump wants to argue that the “30,000 emails” in question are not government records, then he’s agreeing with Clinton that they are personal in nature and arguing that the Russian spy services should steal and share them anyway. But that’s not his theory of the case, is it?

His theory of the case is that the deleted emails contained sensitive classified information of the exact kind that we don’t want the Russians to read.

The man is a maniac and his candidacy is menacing.

Yet, Russia (and WikiLeaks) probably do have more to share with us, and undoubtedly all of it will be selected to assist Trump.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com