Giuliani, GOP rapid-response team parse Trump's Russia remarks: 'What he means is . . .'

2016-07-27T155443Z_1_LYNXNPEC6Q16E_RTROPTP_3_USA-ELECTION-TRUMP.JPG
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at Trump Doral golf course in Miami on July 27, 2016.

Hours after Donald Trump said he hoped Russia had hacked into Hillary Clinton's private server and obtained some of her email correspondence as secretary of state, GOP surrogates sought to reshape Trump's message.

"I'm sure what he means is they should be released to the FBI," former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said at a news conference in South Philadelphia, referring to the roughly 30,000 emails Clinton deleted, which she has said were personal in nature.

The State Department had requested Clinton's emails to comply with a House investigation into the 2012 attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Clinton provided emails she said were work-related.

At a news conference Wednesday in Florida, Trump, the GOP presidential nominee, said, "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing."

"I think you will probably be mightily rewarded by our press," Trump said.

Earlier this month, the FBI director, James Comey, said Clinton was "extremely careless" in her handling of classified information, but he didn't recommend criminal charges.

Giuliani, asked by a reporter whether it was fair to say Trump was encouraging a foreign power to conduct espionage, said, "What Donald Trump would like to see done, as I would, is to have those emails given to the FBI."

Giuliani's comments come as the Democratic National Convention met for the third day in Philadelphia. Last week, the antisecrecy group WikiLeaks released a trove of emails showing Democratic National Committee officials had essentially worked to help Clinton in her primary against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

If, in fact, Russia hacked the DNC, Giuliani said, "don't you think they hacked her emails?"

Giuliani, speaking as part of the rapid-response team Republicans have set up in South Philadelphia to counter messages emanating from the Democratic convention, also said that gathering has shown Democrats were "living in a fantasy world."

"It is living in a world in which everything's wonderful, everything's great, everybody's terrific," he said.

The Republicans' convention last week in Cleveland, by contrast, showed that the GOP was "putting the highest priority on keeping Americans safe, secure, and free," said Rep. Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.).

aseidman@phillynews.com

856-779-3846 @AndrewSeidman