Trump hopes Russia is listening; America, are you listening?
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“Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails.”

It only took Donald TrumpDonald TrumpDNC calls for suspension of Kushner's security clearance amid FBI scrutiny Reporter assaulted by GOP candidate: Most 'surreal experience' of my career Lawyer: Kushner to cooperate on all probes of Russia meetings MORE these 13 words to ignite a debate unlike any other the United States has seen in anyone’s collective memory.

If I had 13,000 words I’m still not sure I could adequately convey why this latest comment is so troubling.

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There’s no precedent to measure Trump’s comments against, after all – because this is virgin territory: presidential nominees don’t encourage our adversaries to commit cyberespionage and cyber theft in order to interfere in our elections.

Not sometimes. Not occasionally. Not at all.  

There’s no precedent for a nominee of any Party publicly inviting repressive, autocratic regimes to tilt the scales in our democracy. Our Founding Fathers were so frightened of a foreign agent being elected President that they enshrined their best effort to guard against it in Article II, Section 1, and Clause 5 of the Constitution.

Before our young country had even crossed the threshold of the 19th Century, Congress had already passed another law — the Logan Act — prohibiting anyone but authorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. At a time when our Founders were just trying to keep the lights on in a young democracy, they spent a lot of time worrying about something we haven’t had to worry about the last 240 years.

But the truth is, law isn’t the reason past nominees of either party have refrained from encouraging our adversaries to spy on us or sway our elections.

Judgment is.

Imagine if Richard Nixon had publicly stated in the fall of 1968 that North Vietnam would get a better outcome if he were President — so they should boycott President Johnson’s peace talks.

Imagine if Ronald Reagan had held a press conference in 1980 and even hinted that if the Ayatollah holding Americans hostage in Tehran just waited until after November, Reagan’s team would give them a better deal.

Imagine if any Cold War candidate had publicly expressed the faintest of hopes that the Soviet Union might use the KGB to embarrass his opponent.

Imagine if post 9/11, nominees of either Party had invited Osama bin Laden to release a videotape because it would play to their strength or their opponent’s weakness.

But you can’t imagine a nominee saying these things because, well, nominees don’t say these things.

We suffer from a dialogue today where we dwell not on the substance — but on the political impact and the horserace. But this? This isn’t a campaign issue. It is a national security issue.

Don’t call it a gaffe. Don’t call criticizing it “political correctness.” Don’t ask how it will impact swing voters.

Ask why a nominee would say anything remotely like this. Ever.

Ask why Donald Trump — who on most foreign policy issues has been spotted in more places  than Pokemon — is consistent in his admiration for Vladimir Putin: an autocrat he calls “brilliant,” “strong,” “a real leader,” “a big hero,” and whom he praised as better than America’s last two presidents whom he admiringly said is “re-building the Russian empire.”

Ask why Trump is disdainful of Putin’s foil NATO, threatening to “walk” from this critical alliance and undermining its promise to defend Europe. If Mitt Romney were guilty of seeing Russia through the prism of Rocky IV, it’s fair to ask if the only show Trump watches is The Americans.  

You don’t need to ask why so few Republican national security experts are involved with the Trump campaign or why one of the few retired flag officers supporting this nominee — Lt. General Michael Flynn — has regularly appeared on RT, an arm of Russian propaganda. The Counselor to the last Republican Secretary of State summed it up: “it’s the same cast of oddballs and kooks and has-beens and kooks.”

Donald Trump hopes Russia is listening. I just hope America is listening — to Donald Trump.  

David Wade is the former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryJohn Kerry channels Yoda in tweetstorm John Kerry goes on tweetstorm as Senate eyes Iran legislation John Kerry's advice to Harvard grads: Learn Russian MORE. He is currently a consultant specializing in providing global corporations and organizations strategic advice, crisis communications, political intelligence gathering, and federal and legislative strategy.


The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.