(CNSNews.com) - "It's just a total deflection, this whole thing with Russia," Donald Trump told a news conference on Wednesday.
"In fact, I saw her (Hillary Clinton's) campaign manager -- I don't know his title, Mook. I saw him on television and they asked him about Russia and the (DNC) hacking. By the way, they hacked -- they probably have her 33,000 e-mails. I hope they do. They probably have her 33,000 e-mails that she lost and deleted because you'd see some beauties there."
Trump repeated several times that it may not be Russia who hacked the DNC: "Nobody even knows this, it's probably China, or it could be somebody sitting in his bed. But it shows how weak we are, it shows how disrespected we are."
After telling the news conference that Russia -- or somebody -- probably already has Hillary Clinton's deleted emails, a reporter later returned to the subject, asking Trump why he doesn't tell Russian President Vladimir Puting to stop interfering with the U.S. presidential campaign.
"I have nothing to do with Putin. I've never spoken to him. I don't know anything about him other than he will respect me. He doesn't respect our president.
"And if it is Russia -- which it's probably not, nobody knows who it is -- but if it is Russia, it's really bad for a different reason, because it shows how little respect they have for our country, when they would hack into a major party and get everything.
"But it would be interesting to see -- I will tell you this. Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let's see if that happens. That'll be next."
A short time later, Trump repeated that nobody knows if the Russians were the ones who hacked into the DNC: "You know (what) the sad thing is? That with the technology and the genius we have in this country, not in government unfortunately, but with the genius we have in government, we don't even know who took the Democratic National Committee e-mails. We don't even know who it is."
Trump also said it's not about the hackers anyway: "It was about the things that were said in those emails. They were terrible things, talking about Jewish, talking about race, talking about atheist, trying to pin labels on people -- what was said was a disgrace, and it was Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and believe me, as sure as you're sitting there, Hillary Clinton knew about it. She knew everything."
NBC's Katie Tur asked Trump if he should be "asking a foreign government -- Russia, China, anybody -- to interfere, to hack into the system of anybody in this country..."
"Well, they probably have them," Trump replied, referring to Clinton's emails. "I'd like to have them released."
"Does that not give you pause?" Tur asked again.
"No, it gives me no pause," Trump responded. "If they have them, they have them. We might as well -- hey, you know what gives me more pause? That a person in our government, crooked Hillary Clinton -- here's what gives me pause. Be quiet. I know you want to save her (Clinton)," he told Tur.
"That a person in our government, Katy, would delete or get rid of 33,000 emails. That gives me a big problem. After she gets a subpoena! She gets subpoenaed, and she gets rid of 33,000 e-mails? That gives me a problem. Now, if Russia or China or any other country has those e-mails, I mean, to be honest with you, I'd love to see them."
The Clinton campaign called Trump's comments the "first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against a political opponent."
Speaking at the Democrat National Convention Wednesday night, former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Trump was "asking a U.S. adversary to engage in hacking or intelligence efforts against the United States of America to affect an election."
Hillary Clinton has said that her use of a private email server to conduct government business was a mistake. FBI Director James Comey saidalthough the FBI did not find "clear evidence" that Clinton and her colleagues intended to violate the law, "there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information."
Comey also noted that even if sensitive information was not marked as classified at the time an email was sent, Clinton or "any reasonable person...should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation."