If Donald Trump didn’t behave like the epitome of a Russian asset, it would be laughable that he tried claiming he was joking when he said at a July 2016 press conference, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
It would be hilarious, except that on the very same day Trump asked for Russian help, Russian hackers made their very first pass at hacking into both the emails of dozens of Clinton campaign staffers and the servers Hillary Clinton used for her personal office. It’s funny, that.
So while Trump was strutting around on stage Saturday for some two hours at the CPAC event, basking in the glow of the adoring audience eating up his vomitous speech, he made fun of his own solicitation for Russian assistance.
“If you tell a joke, if you’re sarcastic, if you’re having fun with the audience, if you’re on live television with millions of people and 25,000 people in an arena,” Trump said, before delivering a replay of his treasonous 2016 remarks. “If you say something like, ‘Russia, please, if you can, get us Hillary Clinton’s emails. Please, Russia, please. Please get us the emails. Please!'”
Yep, he said it all right. And since it’s probably become the single-most memorable line of the entire 2016 campaign, Trump can no longer erase it from the public consciousness. So now he’s making a desperate bid to gaslight America about what he meant. His problem is that every shred of available evidence suggests that Trump really did want Russian help, even if it meant stealing it from his opponent. Here’s a scratch-the-surface rundown:
- June 2016 Trump Tower meeting: When told the Russian delegation would offer him “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary,” Don Jr. responded, “if it’s what you say I love it . . .”
- According to the special counsel, longtime Trump ally Roger Stone was directly asked by a Trump campaign official if WikiLeaks would be doing more damaging email dumps after the site’s initial July 2016 release of DNC emails.
- Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen testified under oath that he had been privy to a conversation between Stone and Trump in which Stone asserted that WikiLeaks planned to release more damaging Clinton emails and Trump responded something like, “wouldn’t that be great.”
- During the very same 2016 press conference in which Trump first appealed to Russia, he also brushed off a question about whether he found it troubling to ask a foreign government for help winning an election. “Nope, it gives me no pause,” Trump told NBC’s Katy Tur, “if Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I mean, to be honest with you, I’d love to see them.” That doesn’t sound like a joke made in front of 25,000 people in an arena now, does it?
- WikiLeaks ultimately did release tens of thousands of emails that were damaging to Clinton’s campaign, just as Trump had asked and Stone had privately promised would happen.
You could call it funny, or you could call it treasonous.