PHILADELPHIA — Democrats were poised to use their convention Wednesday to raise questions about Republican Donald Trump’s fitness to serve as president after he called on Russia to hack emails from Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Democrats pounced within hours of Trump saying: “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.” Democrats said Trump essentially was encouraging a foreign power to commit espionage and meddle in U.S. elections.
“His comments today prove he is dangerously unfit for command,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington). “Never in the history of American politics or American presidencies has any candidate, Republican or Democrat, invited a foreign spy service to hack into an American citizen’s private computer. It’s not just irresponsible — it’s dangerous.”
The congressman said the development will play a role in the final two nights of the Democratic National Convention.
“You’re going to see more focus on the fact that Donald Trump is unfit for command. This is another proof point,” Israel said.
Trump sought to dismiss as “far-fetched” reports that Russian hackers might have played a role in obtaining embarrassing Democratic National Committee emails.
Wednesday night, President Barack Obama will be the keynote speaker; Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) also will address the party. Even before Trump’s comments on Wednesday, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, previewing their comments on morning TV shows, signaled they would raise questions about the prospect of a Trump presidency while burnishing Clinton’s candidacy.
It was clear that Trump’s remarks shifted the focus for Democrats, even if slightly.
Clinton’s campaign quickly denounced Trump’s comments and other Democrats said the remarks were shocking.
“Donald Trump’s call on a foreign adversary, Russia, to illegally hack the email of his opponent for his own political benefit shows staggeringly poor judgment even for him, and is how he puts his own interests above those of the United States,” U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a statement.