Pompeo Criticizes Clinton for Comments About China Getting Trump's Tax Returns, Despite Trump's Call for Russia to Get Her Emails

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized remarks from Hillary Clinton, who hypothetically questioned why a Democratic candidate shouldn't appeal to China to find President Donald Trump's tax returns, which he has refused to release.

Clinton's comments, which she made while speaking Wednesday with MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow, mirrored Trump's call during the 2016 election campaign for Russia to find 33,000 emails deleted from Clinton's private email server.

"Imagine, Rachel, that you had one of the Democratic nominees for 2020 on your show, and that person said, you know, the only other adversary of ours who is anywhere near as good as the Russians is China," Clinton asked while appearing on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. "So why should Russia have all the fun? And since Russia is clearly backing Republicans, why don't we ask China to back us?

"And not only that," she continued. "China, if you're listening, why don't you get Trump's tax returns?"

Fox News host Laura Ingraham aired Clinton's remarks for Pomepo but edited the outtake to omit the former secretary of state's hypothetical framing of her question. Thus, the comments appeared to show Clinton actually suggesting Democrats seek help from China.

"I hadn't heard those comments before," Pompeo said while appearing Thursday on The Ingraham Angle. "They don't remotely sound like what ought to be done by America and they're certainly not what President Trump and this administration is going to do to make sure we keep America safe."

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a discussion on the major foreign policy priorities of the State Department on April 29. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Clinton's word choice in her hypothetical to Maddow closely paralleled remarks made by Trump during the 2016 campaign.

"I will tell you this, Russia: If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said during a rally in July 2016. The president said earlier this year that these comments about Clinton's emails were made in jest.

"If you tell a joke, if you're sarcastic, if you're having fun with the audience, if you're on live television with millions of people and 25,000 people in an arena," he said while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March. "If you say something like, 'Russia, please, if you can, get us Hillary Clinton's emails. Please, Russia, please. Please get us the emails. Please!'"

Despite the president's claims that he was being sarcastic when making the remarks about Clinton's emails, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election meddling said that Trump had urged his staff to find the deleted communications. According to Mueller, Michael Flynn, who was then serving as Trump's national security adviser, had reached out to "multiple people in an effort to obtain the emails." Russian military intelligence also took Trump's remarks seriously and increased efforts to try to find the emails after his comments.

Trump put Clinton's email scandal front-and-center during the presidential campaign and used it to question the former secretary of state's trustworthiness. Both the president and Republicans have continued mobilizing the email scandal since the election, attempting to use it as a counterweight to investigations into, and scrutiny about, Trump's conduct.

Pompeo Criticizes Clinton for Comments About China Getting Trump's Tax Returns, Despite Trump's Call for Russia to Get Her Emails | U.S.