Donald Trump has courted controversy once again, after suggesting Russia should hack Hillary Clinton's email server.
The Republican presidential candidate appeared at a press conference Wednesday, seemingly urging Vladimir Putin's government to find 33,000 emails deleted by Clinton during her time as secretary of state – or release them if they've already hacked her.
"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press," he said, according to the Washington Post.
"They probably have them. I’d like to have them released. . . . It gives me no pause. If they have them, they have them," he said when asked if his comments were inappropriate. "If Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I mean, to be honest with you, I’d love to see them."
Some Trump supporters, including Newt Gingrich, initially passed off his comments as a joke. Trump tweeted this later, not necessarily suggesting Russia should hack Clinton, but re-iterating his call to share them if they already have.
Trump made the comments after being questioned about allegations that Russian hackers were behind the hacking and subsequent release of Democratic National Committee emails via Wikileaks, which suggested that Democratic leaders worked to undermine the Bernie Sanders campaign in favor of Clinton's.
After Trump's comments Wednesday morning, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan told the Guardian via a spokesman that "Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election."
In response, Hillary Clinton's campaign told the New York Times: "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.
"This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue."
Carl Bernstein, the journalist behind the Watergate expose, suggested Trump's comments should be "disqualifying" for a presidential candidate, calling him "manifestly unsuited to be the president of the United States."
Trump's VP Mike Pence suggested both parties would investigate whether Russia is interfering in the election, but also criticized Democratic indignation over the DNC hack.
"The Democrats singularly focusing on who might be behind it and not addressing the basic fact that they’ve been exposed as a party who not only rigs the government, but rigs elections while literally accepting cash for federal appointments, is outrageous," he told the New York Times.
What are Clinton's "missing" emails?
Hillary Clinton's candidacy has been dogged by her use of a private email server to conduct official business as secretary of state, which the FBI concluded in July resulted in more than 100 confidential or "Top Secret" emails being compromised and potentially falling into the hands of enemies.
In 2015, Clinton said she handed over 30,000 work-related emails to the FBI to check whether they contained confidential information, but at the same time had deleted a further 32,000 that she deemed "personal," according to The Washington Times.
"No one wants their personal emails made public," she said at the time, "and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy."
But her decision to delete these personal emails has prompted attacks from Republican opponents, and Trump is calling for these to be found.
FBI director James Comey said earlier this month that they had discovered and recovered "several thousand" work-related emails from Clinton and her colleagues that had been deleted over the years.
Comey said some of the emails they recovered may have included some of those considered personal and subsequently deleted by Clinton.
Comey said agents "found no evidence that any of the additional work-related emails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them."