Treasonous Trump: Candidate Invites Cyberattack on U.S.

I don't like politics, and I definitely don't like being a doomsayer. In the United States, presidents come and go every four to eight years, and we've had some good ones and some bad ones. In retrospect, most are somewhere in the middle. The country keeps ticking on, and alarmist rhetoric during elections seems overblown in retrospect.

The reaction to Donald Trump's latest disaster — we are well beyond the level of a gaffe, blunder or faux pas — is not overblown.

The Republican presidential nominee got on Twitter and live TV earlier today (July 27) to exhort "Russia or any other country or person" to "find [Hillary Clintonꞌs] 33,000 deleted emails" and share them with the FBI. 

In case you missed it, Trump just called for an unfriendly foreign power (or any foreign power, including outright hostile ones) to launch a cyberattack on a U.S. citizen who was representing the U.S. government. This is probably not something you should do if you are running for an office that exists for the express purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and their government.

Having written about cybersecurity for the last four years, there are two things I know for sure. The first is that most people don't understand it very well, and the second is that it's much more important than people think it is. 

The internet isn’t just for impulse shopping and pornography. It's also where people store some of their most important information and exchange some of their most sensitive communications.

Regardless of how low you keep your online profile, there's something in it that you'd prefer to keep out of someone else's hands — and there's someone who wants to use that information against you. Itꞌs not fair, and it’s not statistically likely, but it’s true. 

Cybercrime can threaten your privacy, your livelihood and even your safety. That’s why when a presidential candidate implicitly requests a foreign entity to unearth and expose private information from a government agency (the State Department), it's not just irresponsible — it's uncomfortably close to an act of treason.

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Whether Hillary Clinton's emails were private or public is a subject of some debate, and at the crux of the ongoing discussion surrounding her actions. I have no desire to rehash that issue here, suffice to say that some of her correspondence was likely private, and some of it likely involved government information. 

Neither case exonerates Trump, who was either calling for a foreign power to attack a U.S. citizen, or to attack the U.S. government. Take your pick.

Hillary Clinton is not a "private citizen" in the strictest sense, and Trump wants these would-be hackers to turn the information over to the FBI rather than just plaster it online. However, even public figures possess both civil and legal rights. Law enforcement has hard boundaries in what counts as permissible evidence for a reason. 

A democracy, by definition, will never be 100 percent safe from its enemies, but thatꞌs the price we acknowledge and pay in order for every citizen to have some of the freedoms outlined in our Constitution, our Bill of Rights and our laws all the way down to a local level.

Trump isnꞌt just making an idle threat, either; Russian hackers have already unearthed and revealed a cache of private DNC emails. The Democratic Party is still dealing with the fallout, as the correspondences revealed a lot of internal strife and a little bit of religious intolerance within Clintonꞌs party. For better or worse, Russian hackers have the means to throw a monkey wrench into the American political process, and Trump actively wants them to.

Unspecified Eastern European hackers are, however, not the most reliable source of political stability. I have no desire to impugn Eastern Europeꞌs plethora of white-hat hackers, who move security research forward and protect cybersecurity all around the world. But itꞌs no secret that Eastern Europe, and Russia in particular, are hotbeds for cybercrime and malicious hacking. 

If Trump doesnꞌt believe these criminals would eventually turn on him, then his ignorance is even greater than it appears to be. (Even conservative columnist David Frum has been less than impressed with Trumpꞌs stance on Russian relations.)

Whatever you think of Clinton (and I am not a fan of hers, for the record), she is still a citizen of the United States. When someone seeking the countryꞌs highest office calls down the wrath of a foreign power on her, that should disqualify him immediately as a serious contender for the presidency. 

Make no mistake: Cybercrime can be a form of terrorism, just as sure as a bombing or mass shooting, and if Hillary Clintonꞌs privacy isnꞌt safe under Trump, whose would be?

This column isn’t meant to alter anyone’s vote or endorse any particular candidate for presidency. Goodness knows I havenꞌt decided yet. But unless Trump clarifies (or better yet, rescinds) his comments, a vote for him is a vote for foreign cyberattacks against United States citizens. Youꞌd better just hope that youꞌre not next on his list.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi. 

  • distantskunk
    Sorry, but your headline, summary, and stance on what Trump said - and how he said it- is misconstrued.

    The FBI director, among many other top CIA experts have stated that Hillary Clinton's email SERVERS (not just one server) have most likely been hacked by foreign governments such as China, Iran, and Russia.

    The PRESS, have not seemed to care too much about these security risks to our country. As a tech expert, I am sure you understand, the emails on the several servers ARE GONE, as the FBI director already stated.

    Trump, cleverly made the point that no one in the press seems to care that our enemies have top secret emails that could hurt our country, or blackmail President Hillary Clinton.
  • 1995Supra
    Total clickbait. I agree with DistantSkunk. The press are liars. Did you, Marshall, watch the entire press conference or just the cut up pieces The New York Times or CNN let you see?
  • Jesus Christ, the media slant on this is ridiculous. Trump was referring to the 33,000-odd e-mails that were deleted from Hillary's private e-mail server (which - by the way - the language FBI confirmed she used to TX/RCV classified information, willingly), since that e-mail server was publicly-facing, it was entirely possible and plausible that server was accessed by foreign actors.

    Since that e-mail server is right now most likely sitting in a closet in Quantico or wherever, completely disconnected from the internet, how in the language would it make sense to invite Russia to try and hack her e-mails? There is literally no possible way to access that e-mail server as of now.

    The media in this country has become so pathetic and will scrape at anything to try and find something because they are scared of what will happen if Trump is elected... well, for one, no more of this stupid shit. Oh, and I guarantee Hillary's private e-mail server even existing in the first place was more of a national security threat than anything else.

    Please refrain from using profanities in your comments.
  • GlennC777
    The comments here are appalling. How many ways does Donald Trump have to prove his incompetence and depravity before people will finally realize he's the political equivalent of a flaming bag of language?

    In this case he's literally called for our adversaries to interfere in our politics through electronic espionage. He has no ideas about the technicalities of where these emails might be found; he gave Russia and anybody else his personal permission, carte blanche, to spy on his political opponent. Anybody defending him should be ashamed of themselves.
  • 18348172 said:
    The comments here are appalling. How many ways does Donald Trump have to prove his incompetence and depravity before people will finally realize he's the political equivalent of a flaming bag of language?

    In this case he has literally called for our adversaries to interfere in our politics through electronic espionage. He has no ideas about the technicalities of where these emails might be found; he gave Russia and anybody else his personal permission, carte blanche, to spy on his political opponent. Anybody defending him should be ashamed of themselves.

    Tell me, without using the words "Donald Trump", what makes you think Hillary would be a good fit for president?
  • Tyler_71
    I agree with most of these comments and the photo of trump used is just pretty dumb. I mean anyone will look stupid and silly if you used a photo of them nearly blinking and talking. I mean take a photo of yourself talking and post it on social media feeling great about it. Or even a picture of someone eating. But woah post a picture of Hillary and its a photo she posed for and is smiling her fake smile.
  • Lawoflift1
    How sad that such a slanted, tainted piece of yellow journalism is being used to accuse Trump of treason when what Trump is doing is asking someone COMPETENT to do what the Main Stream Media SHOULD have done in the first place, but is too busy drooling and twitching over PROVEN LIAR, INCOMPETENT, DISHONEST and CRONY CAPITALIST Hillary Clinton (all the things liberals PROJECT onto others).

    And, before the vile hatred flows, I am not even a Trump supporter.

    I wonder how these media outlets would react if their First Amendment Right and therefore responsibility was being treated like the Second Amendment. Oh, wait, no need! The MSM willingly abdicated objectivity and holding ALL of our government to the SAME standard 40 years ago.

    Consider Hillary Clinton's self-enrichment, proven dishonesty and total lack of accomplishment (and even abject failure) in her government roles to date.

    Yet the deluded, dishonest and those in denial continue to support her and bash Trump, without being able to give real examples of Trump's "incompetence" about which they bleat in unison, or reconcile the REALITY of Hillary Clinton ("HC is the most experienced, best suited to be POTUS"??? By what standard?"
  • daddywalter
    Very uninformed for a writer on a tech site.

    The servers (yes, more than one) in question no longer exist, at least not on the Internet -- unless Hillary Clinton has still another server she has not revealed. The then-existing servers were turned over to the FBI and were examined as thoroughly (we're told) as the FBI could do so. But that's pretty much beside the point.

    The servers _were_ online for a period of years, during which time they were vulnerable to hack attacks by any number of parties, including black-hats in Russia and other adversary nations. If the Russian government obtained data from the servers then, it presumably still has that data. Trump knows that, we all know it; and assuming the Russians already have the data, he was sarcastically asking Putin to release that information. No damage done on Trump's part, since the data has already been compromised by a potential enemy. But any damage done by Hillary would then be revealed to the world in such overwhelming manner that she would immediately be vulnerable to prosecution under the Espionage Act beyond any question of doubt.

    As for the suggestion that Trump was inviting the Russians to hack into servers, we already know that the Russians -- and others -- have already been doing this for nearly as long as the Internet has been in existence. They don't _need_ an invitation or encouragement to do so. But the U.S. government needs to take the threat far more seriously. Permitting then SecState Clinton to operate a private, non-government server to conduct government business demonstrates that the U.S. government has not taken the threat seriously.
  • Alex_229
    Seems to me Trump only referred to the 33,000 deleted emails. HRC is the traitor, not Trump. Why have secret servers and delete emails if she is so innocent when it comes to hiding her dirty little secrets???? 600 cries for help in Benghazi
    WTF??? How many of these "personal" emails discuss how she let Americans die in Benghazi???
  • daddywalter
    Yesterday's (literally) news: The FBI asked the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign to provide access to the computer logs and other data in hopes of identifying hackers who (apparently) successfully hacked into the campaign's servers. The request was refused: Hillary's campaign would rather remain vulnerable to future hack-attacks than permit the FBI to see their servers' activity.

    The news was reported on Friday, a day commonly used for "burying" unfavorable news because most people are already focused on their weekend plans and paying less attention to the news. Coincidence? Maybe.