Editorial

And the bar drops even lower as Trump calls on Russian hackers to help his election prospects

You can’t make this stuff up: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump actually called on an unfriendly foreign government Wednesday to hack into his opponent’s files, saying he hoped Russia could find the emails that were deleted from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s private servers in 2014.

“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,” Trump said during a news conference at one of his golf courses in Florida. That’s not much of a bounty, but it still boggles the mind that the nominee of a major party would urge foreign hackers to break into U.S. networks in the hope of improving his prospects in November.

Imagine what Trump’s reaction would have been if Clinton had said she hoped the Russians would sneak into the IRS and steal copies of his tax returns. But it is inconceivable that she would say such a thing. Trump simply refuses to acknowledge that the words of a president — or someone who may soon become one — carry enormous weight and cannot be easily taken back. That’s why it is so appalling that he idly claims as fact so many things that aren’t actually true, that he routinely pledges to violate the Constitution, that he blithely calls for foundational defense treaties to be reinterpreted.

A spokesman for the Trump campaign later insisted that “Mr. Trump did not call on, or invite, Russia or anyone else to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.” Instead, Jason Miller suggested, Trump was saying the Russians already had the data because Clinton’s server wasn’t secure. But Trump’s words speak for themselves.

So far, Trump’s talk-first, ponder-later approach hasn’t hurt him with his supporters. They seem to see him as a mold-breaker, blunt and honest regardless of where the chips fall. But what we’re seeing is a man with little apparent impulse control running for a job that requires the most unflappable of temperaments, someone who seems to believe that no statement, no matter how outrageous, is out of bounds as long as it grabs the attention that fuels his irresponsible campaign.

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UPDATES:

3:30 p.m.: This editorial was updated to include the response from Trump’s campaign.

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