President Trump’s call for Russian hackers to break into the Hillary Clinton campaign and find her “missing” emails wasn’t the most damaging statement he made during the 2016 Russian campaign to throw the election. A new Senate intelligence committee report shows his comments calling the election “rigged” had a big impact on how Obama administration officials talked to the public about the threat from Russia. So why did Trump’s comments make Obama officials so hesitant to call out Vladimir Putin and what does it mean for 2020?
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Rigged: Trump famously invited Russia to hack his rival Hillary Clinton when he turned to the cameras during a July 2016 press conference and said “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” The statement revealed a lot about Trump’s tolerant attitude towards Russia’s dirty tricks, but by that point the DNC and Clinton campaign had hardened their digital defenses and there’s no evidence Russian hackers responded to Trump’s invitation.