Trump claimed he was joking about Russia hacking Clinton's emails

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Washington — At a July 2016 news conference in Florida, then-candidate Donald Trump urged Russia to locate emails from his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. That evening, he told The Detroit News he was just joking. 

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Toledo on July 27, 2016

“Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing" from Clinton's email servers, Trump said on July 27, 2016. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

A new indictment accuses Russian military intelligence of trying to hack Clinton’s emails later that same day.

More:Trump sets expectations low for summit with Putin

Also later that day, in an interview with The Detroit News in Toledo, Ohio, Trump denied trying to encourage further hacking to find emails Clinton had deleted from a private account she used while secretary of state, calling the idea “ridiculous.”  

“No, that’s not what I said, and I was having fun. We were all having fun,” Trump replied when asked if his comment was serious.

“And that’s not what I said. It’s so ridiculous. And they don’t even know if it was Russia that was involved. They have no idea. They’re doing very poorly in their campaign. They have absolutely no idea who it was — if it was hacked at all. Who knows what was hacked.”

Trump also tweeted that day, echoing his earlier remarks: "If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton's 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!"

At the time, Trump's campaign said he was merely suggesting that anyone with Clinton's emails should turn them over to authorities.

The indictment unsealed Friday by the special counsel’s office charged 12 Russian intelligence officers, accusing them of interfering with the 2016 presidential election.

The indictment says that on July 27, 2016, Russian military intelligence GRU officers "attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton's personal office."

At the same time, they also targeted 76 email addresses affiliated with Clinton's campaign.

The indictment does not address Trump’s request for help from Russia on the same day.

A White House spokeswoman, Lindsay Walters, stressed in a Friday statement that no one in the Trump campaign was connected to the indictment.

"Today’s charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result," she said.

"This is consistent with what we have been saying all along."

The indictment comes as Trump is set to meet one-on-one with Putin on Monday in Helskini.  

Trump, who has often expressed doubt about Russia's involvement in the 2016 election attacks, on Saturday suggested the Obama administration didn't do enough to stop them.

"The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration," Trump tweeted.

"Why didn’t they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September, before the Election?"

Chad Livengood contributed