Donald TrumpDonald TrumpPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Biden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe Has Trump beaten the system? MORE on Wednesday said he hopes that Russian hackers have obtained the tens of thousands of emails that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe Shontel Brown gaining ground against Nina Turner in Ohio: poll Biden hits trail for McAuliffe in test of his political brand MORE deleted from her private email server. 

"If they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do," Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, told reporters on Wednesday at a press conference at his Miami-area hotel.


"They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted. You'd see some beauties, so we'll see."

He went on to address Russia directly: "Russia, if you are listening," he said, "I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by the press."

Clinton, who was formally nominated for president by Democrats Tuesday, last year gave the State Department roughly 30,000 work-related emails from the private server she used while secretary of State. The remaining 30,000 messages, she said, were deleted because they were personal in nature. 

Trump's unusual appeal to Russia comes at a time when the country is accused by intelligence officials of seeking to sway the outcome of the presidential election by hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

The Clinton campaign slammed Trump’s remarks, calling them “a bridge too far.”

"This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent," Clinton senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement.  

"That's not hyperbole, those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue," Sullivan said.

U.S. officials are increasingly confident that Russian hackers were behind a breach of the DNC that led to an embarrassing leak of emails last week. The emails appeared to show DNC officials working against the candidacy of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia US launches second Somalia strike in week MORE (I-Vt.), sparking an outcry that led party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign.

Sullivan on Wednesday said the candidate has been briefed by intelligence officials on the DNC hack and was “alarmed” to hear of Russia’s likely involvement.

“She has been told, as now the world has been told, that the weight of opinion on this, the growing consensus from the experts and intelligence officials, is that Russia was in fact behind the DNC leak,” Sullivan said.

“She, like I think any Republican, Democrat or Independent who cares about America’s national security is alarmed by the prospect or proposition that Russia is interfering with the American election,” he continued. “She does not view this as a political issue. She views this as a national security issue and she believes it is obviously something new to see them interfering in an American election.”

Democrats and other security experts have suggested that the Kremlin is trying to help Trump win the White House. 

The Trump campaign dismisses that accusation, and say Democrats are trying deflect attention from the damaging nature of the DNC emails.

"In order to try and deflect the horror and stupidity of the Wikileakes disaster, the Dems said maybe it is Russia dealing with Trump. Crazy!" he tweeted Tuesday. 

"For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia."

Democrats aren't the only ones who have accused Trump of being close to Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.

During the Republican primary, Ohio Gov. John Kasich launched a spoof website touting a Trump-Putin ticket under the slogan, "Make tyranny great again."

That attack came after Putin called Trump “a really brilliant and talented person.” Trump, for his part, has said he would “get along” with Putin if he won the White House.

During the press conference Wednesday, Trump denied ever having met Putin.

“I never met Putin. I don’t know who Putin is,” Trump said.

During a Republican debate in November, Trump said he got to know Putin because they were on an episode of CBS’s “60 Minutes” together. 

“I got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes, we were stablemates,” Trump said, according to Time. “We did well that night.”

Trump's statements on foreign policy have fueled questions about how he would handle Russia in the White House.

During an interview earlier this month, Trump said that if one of the Baltic nations in NATO was attacked by Russia, he would consider whether they had fulfilled their "obligations" to the U.S. before coming to its aid. 

The remark drew a chorus of denunciations from Republicans in Congress.  

“I can only imagine how our allies in NATO, particularly the Baltic states, must feel after reading these comments from Mr. Trump,” said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate braces for a nasty debt ceiling fight Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor How Sen. Graham can help fix the labor shortage with commonsense immigration reform MORE (R-S.C.). “I’m 100 percent certain how Russian President Putin feels: He’s a very happy man.” 

Jonathan Easley, Lisa Hagen and Jesse Byrnes contributed. Updated at 1:02 p.m.