Donald Trump issued an open invitation for Russia to hack his rival Hillary Clinton and expose information that could sway the upcoming election for President of the United States.
Then his campaign declared that it was being misinterpreted and that Trump really meant that if the Russians happen to have access to Clinton’s deleted emails, that information should be shared with the FBI for its investigation.
Today Trump says it was all a joke. He was being sarcastic.
Unlike Trump’s cryptic answer to Bill O’Reilly about the federal minimum wage where he somehow managed to take three different policy positions in 30 seconds and left us not really knowing what his policy is–or if he’s given it enough thought to actually have a policy–in this case it seems obvious that it was truly a request from Trump for Russia to actively target his opponent for his own political gain. That is a threat to democracy itself–and not something that should be taken lightly from a nominee running for President of the United States.
Donald Trump—the Republican nominee for President of the United States—was speaking about the controversial email hack of the DNC and the allegations that Russia is possibly behind it. Trump went on live television and said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,”–referring to the emails deleted by Hillary Clinton related to her controversial use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State.
The Trump campaign has worked vigorously to un-ring that bell. First, the official stance was that Trump wasn’t actually inviting the Russians to hack his rival in order to sway the election for his own political gain—he was pleading with them to please share that evidence with the FBI for its investigation into Clinton’s email server. It wasn’t a highly unethical, possibly treasonous call for a foreign nation to hack a candidate running for President of the United States, it was just a concerned citizen trying to make sure the FBI has as much help as it can get.
As of this morning, Trump’s new official position is that it was sarcastic. It was just meant to be funny.
I reached out to experts in information security and data protection to get their thoughts on Trump’s statement and the implications it has.
Ajay Arora, co-founder and CEO of Vera, exclaimed, “I almost fell out of my chair! This is no different than Nixon calling for the Watergate break-in on live TV,” adding, “What trump is calling for is for a foreign government, to give him the ammunition to politically assassinate his rival, in other words, cyber assassination. It’s borderline insanity. You just can’t write this stuff.”
“It’s unprecedented. I suspect many would argue its harmful however it was intended,” shared Dimitri Sirota, founder and CEO of BigID. “Giving the candidate the benefit of the doubt that he did not mean to appeal to a foreign adversary to attack the US and pervert an election (clearly not something you would expect from a Commander-in-chief) it still has the unfortunate effect of chilling the confidence allies will have in sharing intelligence with the US and its candidate. Unpredictability is not a virtue in statesmanship and diplomacy.”
Is it Unethical?
As with most things, Trump’s words and how they’re perceived is open to subjective interpretation. One person’s treason is another one’s patriotism.
Read the full story on Forbes: InfoSec Experts Weigh In On Trump’s Call For Russian’s To Hack Clinton Email.