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Ex-CIA Chief: Trump Taking 'Russia's Side' With Clinton E-mail Comments

  • RFE/RL

Leon Panetta when he was U.S. Secretary of Defense in 2013.

Leon Panetta when he was U.S. Secretary of Defense in 2013.

Former U.S. Defense Secretary and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief Leon Panetta has accused Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump of "once again" taking "Russia’s side" by suggesting that Moscow should hack the e-mails of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

Panetta said in a speech to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 27 that Trump "is asking one of our adversaries to engage in hacking or intelligence efforts against the United States of America to affect an election."

"As someone who was responsible for protection our nation from cyberattacks, it is inconceivable to me that any presidential candidate would be that irresponsible," said Panetta, who served both as the CIA and Pentagon chief under President Barack Obama.

Trump said earlier in the day that he hopes Russia would be able to find "the 30,000 emails that are missing," a reference to correspondence that Clinton said she deleted from the private server because she considered them personal.

The FBI has investigated whether Clinton violated laws in her handling of classified materials, calling her "extremely careless" but saying last month that she would not face charges.

Trump's comments follow last week's massive leak of e-mail correspondence among Democratic officials that the party has suggested was orchestrated by the Russian government.