Trump’s Call for Russian Spying Causes Stir at AJC Event

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Republican nominee Donald Trump encouraged Russian spying at a Florida press conference on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The theft by suspected Russian agents of the Democratic National Committee’s emails, leading to the abrupt departure of Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as DNC chairwoman after the release of 30,000 of those emails by WikiLeaks, was bound to continue to earn headlines on Wednesday.

But as Day 3 of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia got underway, it wasn’t news of an FBI investigation into the hack that got everyone’s attention — that distinction belonged to Republican nominee Donald Trump, who seemed to encourage at a Florida press conference Russian spying on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

That drew a sharp rebuke by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who learned of the Trump remarks while in conference with a staffer on the sidelines of an American Jewish Committee event at a Center City office building.

“For a presidential hopeful of the United States to ask Russia to spy on a [former secretary of state] is shameful,” said Engel, to a round of applause. “It’s a scary thing, because I happen to believe that Russia’s interests are not America’s interests.”

According to an account in The New York Times, Trump, just minutes before his comments were broadcast across Twitter, had a message directly for Russia from the podium at one of his golf courses.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said, apparently referencing emails that had been stored on a private Clinton server and have not been released by the State Department. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Engel’s reaction to those comments came at the end of a discussion on the necessity of the United States to engage with other nations.

The congressman had been joined on the panel by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), several foreign ambassadors, and Wendy Sherman, the former undersecretary of state who led the U.S. negotiating team on the Iran nuclear deal. 

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Andy Gotlieb is the managing editor of the Jewish Exponent. He holds 31 years of experience in communications, mostly in journalism, with a decade in public relations, too. Prior newspaper stops include the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Tampa Tribune and the Philadelphia Business Journal. The first 17 years were spent in print journalism, where I covered, at various times, business, politics, crime and government, among other beats. The final 2.5 years in that stretch was an editor at the Philadelphia Business Journal, where my responsibilities included complete control over a weekly section and working with both staff writers and freelancers. In late 2005, I switched gears and began working in public relations for the next decade. I learned the ins and outs of public relations -- including being on the other side of the media-PR equation -- and made numerous contacts. I rejoined the ranks of journalism in March 2016, starting as the managing editor of the Jewish Exponent.

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