Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that he hoped Russia had hacked Hillary Clinton’s email, essentially encouraging an adversarial foreign power to cyberspy on a secretary of state’s correspondence.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, staring directly into the cameras during a news conference. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Mr. Trump’s call was an extraordinary moment at a time when Russia is being accused of meddling in the United States’ presidential election. His comments came amid questions about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers, which American intelligence agencies have told the White House they have “high confidence” was the work of the Russian government.
Later in the news conference, when asked if he was really urging a foreign nation to hack into the private email server of Mrs. Clinton, or at least meddle in the nation’s elections, he dismissed the question. “That’s up to the president,” Mr. Trump said, before finally saying “be quiet” to the female questioner. “Let the president talk to them.”
The Clinton campaign immediately accused Mr. Trump of both encouraging Russian espionage against the United States and meddling in domestic politics.
“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,” said Jake Sullivan, Mrs. Clinton’s chief foreign policy adviser. “This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”
And a spokesman for Speaker Paul D. Ryan, a Republican, responded to Mr. Trump’s remarks by criticizing Russia’s behavior.
“Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug,” said Brendan Buck, the spokesman. “Putin should stay out of this election.”