Trump Invited the Russians to Hack Clinton. Were They Listening?

WASHINGTON — It was one in every of the extra outlandish statements in a marketing campaign replete with them: In a information convention in July 2016, Donald J. Trump made a direct attraction to Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails and make them public.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump mentioned, referring to emails Mrs. Clinton had deleted from the personal account she had used when she was secretary of state. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

As it seems, that very same day, the Russians — whether or not they had tuned in or not — made their first effort to break into the servers utilized by Mrs. Clinton’s private workplace, in accordance to a sweeping 29-page indictment unsealed Friday by the particular counsel’s workplace that charged 12 Russians with election hacking.

The indictment didn’t tackle the query of whether or not the Russians’ actions have been really in response to Mr. Trump. It mentioned nothing in any respect about Mr. Trump’s request for assist from Russia — a comment that had unnerved American intelligence and regulation enforcement officers who have been intently monitoring Russia’s efforts to affect the election.

[Read the indictment right here.]

But the indictment did provide some clues about what occurred, implying that the hacking had occurred in a while the day Mr. Trump issued his invitation. He made the assertion round 10:30 a.m. July 27 at his golf course in Doral, Fla. It was late afternoon in Russia.

“For example, on or about July 27, 2016, the conspirators attempted after-hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office,” in accordance to the indictment, referring to spearphishing, a standard tactic used to goal e-mail accounts.

The indictment mentioned that on the identical day, Russians started an effort to goal 76 Clinton marketing campaign e-mail accounts.

Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy lawyer basic and the Justice Department official overseeing the investigation by the particular counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, mentioned the authorities weren’t alleging in the indictment that Americans had knowingly been in touch with the Russians about the hacking.

“The conspirators corresponded with several Americans during the course of the conspiracy through the internet,” Mr. Rosenstein mentioned. “There’s no allegation in this indictment that the Americans knew they were corresponding with Russian intelligence officers.”

Investigators for Mr. Mueller would really like to ask Mr. Trump what he knew about the hackings. The president has refused for a number of months to sit for an interview.

At the 2016 information convention, Mr. Trump made a collection of statements on Russia and raised questions on whether or not the Kremlin had really been behind the earlier hacking of emails from the Democratic National Committee. Emails from the committee had been made public days earlier than, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, creating a big distraction as the occasion formally nominated Mrs. Clinton.

“Nobody even knows this, it’s probably China, or it could be somebody sitting in his bed,” Mr. Trump said about possible perpetrators of the hackings. “But it shows how weak we are, it shows how disrespected we are. Total — assuming it’s Russia or China or one of the major countries and competitors, it’s a total sign of disrespect for our country. Putin and the leaders throughout the world have no respect for our country anymore, and they certainly have no respect for our leader.”

Mr. Trump additionally signaled then that he can be open to recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. The Obama administration and the European Union had thought of the seizure unlawful and imposed sanctions.

“We’ll be looking at that,” Mr. Trump mentioned when requested if he would acknowledge Crimea as Russian land and raise sanctions that had been imposed after the annexation. “Yeah, we’ll be looking.”

He nonetheless is, if his current statements are any indication, as he prepares to meet one-on-one with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia early subsequent week in Finland.

Doris Burke and Alain Delaquérière contributed analysis.

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