In a clear sign that Donald Trump doesn't intend on toning down his off-the-cuff style in the general election, the Republican nominee put out a call to Moscow on Wednesday morning, asking Russian hackers to find and release more of Hillary Clinton's emails.
At a press conference in Doral, Florida, reporters repeatedly asked Trump about his possible connections to the Russian government. The questions followed a growing consensus that Russian hackers were behind a trove of leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee.
Trump brought up "Russia and the hacking" while fielding questions, then referenced messages that Clinton deleted while she was secretary of state. Those messages have become a source of controversy amid the release of Clinton's emails in response to a VICE News Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
"By the way if they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails, I hope they do," he began.
"They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted, because you'd see some beauties there," Trump said. "So let's see."
Trump then made a direct call to the Kremlin to take action.
"It would be interesting to see, I will tell you this: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 33,000 emails that are missing, I think you will rewarded mightily by our press," Trump wrapped up. "Let's see if that happens."
Trump later doubled-down on his remarks, tweeting, "If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton's 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!"
In recent days, many media reports have highlighted connections between the presidential contender and the less savory aspects of the Russian state.
Trump tried to fire back at that idea in an interview on Wednesday, telling CBS Miami: "I mean I have nothing to do with Russia," and insisting that he's never met Vladimir Putin — despite a brag he once made during a primary debate.
"I got to know him [Putin] very well because we were both on '60 Minutes,' we were stablemates, and we did very well that night," Trump said onstage at a Fox/Wall Street Journal debate in November. (Trump and Putin were never actually physically together on the show; they appeared on the same night, but Putin was in Russia.)
Trump's running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, also weighed in on Russia and Clinton's emails on Wednesday.
"The FBI will get to the bottom of who is behind the hacking," Pence said in a statement. "If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences."
He then accused Democrats of "singularly focusing on who might be behind it and not addressing the basic fact that they've been exposed as a party who not only rigs the government, but rigs elections while literally accepting cash for federal appointments is outrageous."
"The American people now have absolute and further proof of the corruption that exists around Hillary Clinton. It should disqualify her from office, if the media did their job," Pence said.