Something quite remarkable happened this morning. Donald J. Trump, the Republican nominee for president, beseeched the government of Russia, a foreign and quasi-hostile country, to hack the private email account of Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he told a room of flummoxed reporters. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
For those few readers who aren’t up to speed, let’s back up a step. It appears increasingly likely that a Russian state intelligence agency illegally accessed the Democratic National Committee’s internal servers and enlisted WikiLeaks to publicize damaging internal emails on the eve of the Democratic convention. Most observers believe that Russia’s government initiated this criminal act in the service of tilting the presidential election to Trump, who proposes to take the United States out of NATO and whose personal financial ties (and potential dependency) on Russian investors raise a host of troubling questions.
In fact, this is not the first time that a Republican nominee has benefited from foreign interference in an American presidential election. The year was 1968, the candidate was Richard Nixon and the country was South Vietnam.