Political foes Richard Burr and Deborah Ross agreed on one thing Wednesday after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested Russian hackers should try to find “missing” emails that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not turn over to the State Department from her private email server:
Foreign cyberattacks and hacking are threats to U.S. national security.
But only Ross called Trump’s comment dangerous.
Ross’ campaign then used Trump’s statements to chide Burr for his recent appearance and support of the GOP nominee.
Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump
Ross, a Democrat, is challenging Burr, a Republican from Winston-Salem, for his Senate seat, which he’s held for two terms. Burr campaigned with Trump this week in North Carolina, along with Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and other GOP lawmakers from the state. Ross supports Clinton and has campaigned with her.
Trump linked Russia to the Clinton emails during a news conference Wednesday in Florida after two days of speculation about whether Russia was behind the leak of emails pirated from Democratic National Committee computers and made public by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said Wednesday. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
When asked later if his comments were appropriate, Trump said he wanted the emails released.
“It gives me no pause,” he said, “... If Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I mean, to be honest with you, I’d love to see them.”
Burr’s campaign was unimpressed with Ross’ criticism.
“Deborah Ross has little credibility when it comes to national security after serving as the head of the ACLU chapter that called American intelligence agencies ‘dangerous’ mere months after the September 11th terrorist attacks,” said Jesse Hunt, Burr’s campaign spokesman, Wednesday evening in an emailed statement. “The only reason this is being discussed is because Hillary Clinton jeopardized national security with her illicit private email server _ a scandal Ross has repeatedly refused to address despite campaigning by Clinton’s side in North Carolina.”
Burr’s Senate office, meanwhile, declined to comment on Trump’s statements.
But, in a statement, his office did address the leak of the Democratic National Committee emails, saying it would be premature to blame any particular country or individual for the DNC email hack.
Senator Burr has said for some time that foreign adversaries are intent on gaining unauthorized access into our country’s government and private networks to access sensitive data.
Statement from U.S. Sen. Richard Burr’s office
“As chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Sen. Burr has an obligation to wait for the FBI and the broader intelligence community to complete their investigation on the source of this cyberattack,” said Becca Glover Watkins, communications director for Burr’s Washington, D.C. office.
“Senator Burr has said for some time that foreign adversaries are intent on gaining unauthorized access into our country’s government and private networks to access sensitive data – whether that is trade secrets of American companies, or healthcare information of government workers. These hackers remain a serious challenge to the security of the U.S.,” the email statement said.
Ross called on Burr to denounce Trump’s comments.
Earlier Wednesday, Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Wisconsin had rebuked Trump’s statement. Ryan said Russian President Vladimir Putin should “stay out of this election” and that Russia is “a global menace led by a devious thug.”
Ross said Trump was encouraging a cyberattack on the U.S. She called that “dangerous” in a statement.
“No matter your political party, we should all be able to agree Russia’s cyber-attacks are a serious threat to our nation,” Ross said. “Richard Burr, as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, should say whether or not he agrees with Trump. If he disagrees, he should denounce his comments and say clearly that national security and foreign policy are more important than this kind of hyper-partisan dialogue.”
This story has been updated with comment from Burr’s campaign spokesman.