Members of Maine’s congressional delegation or their representatives criticized statements by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump encouraging Russia to hack into the email accounts of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent, were both out of reach on Thursday, staff members said. But representatives provided statements making it clear Collins and King are among the political leaders troubled by Trump’s comments.

Collins spokeswoman Annie Clark called Trump’s statements “ill-advised,” but pointed out he has tried to clarify his point. “And he now wisely appears to be walking them back.”

Collins has said she has always supported her party’s nominee for president, but that she is struggling with her decisions about whether she will vote for Trump based on some of his inflammatory statements.

Trump made the comment Wednesday amid speculation that Russian hackers may have been responsible for leaking internal Democratic Party emails as a way to boost Trump’s campaign. Trump suggested that Russia try to hack into Clinton’s email account to find messages not included in a federal review of her private server.

“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 rewarded mightily by our press,” Trump said.

Trump appeared to be partially rolling back his comments during an interview on Fox News Thursday. He told the interviewer that he was being “sarcastic” at the time.

Both King and Collins sit on the Senate’s Intelligence Committee, which deals with national security issues including U.S. cyber security,

King spokesman Scott Ogden said the senator takes the issue of cyber security seriously.

“Sen. King has seen firsthand how cyber attacks can threaten national security, endanger economic stability, and jeopardize the privacy and personal information of Americans across the country,” Ogden said. “He does not take threats to our national cyber-security lightly and believes that calling on known bad actors to hack U.S. citizens is unwise and irresponsible.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, a Clinton supporter, offered the strongest criticism of Trump.

“This is another example of reckless and irresponsible behavior on the part of Donald Trump,” Pingree said. “Cyber attacks on the United States by Russia and China are a threat to our national security and it’s absolutely outrageous that Trump is inviting countries to try and hack into American computers. I find it pretty disturbing that Trump seems to be looking to Vladimir Putin to support him in his campaign against Hillary Clinton.”

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, has avoided taking a position on his party’s presidential candidate and declined to comment Thursday on Trump’s statement.

Brent Littlefield, a political consultant for Poliquin, said Poliquin was focused on jobs and trade issues, which are more important to the people of the 2nd District. Poliquin’s stance drew new fire from the campaign of his Democratic challenger, Emily Cain.

“President Reagan must be rolling in his grave,” Cain communications director Dan Gleick said. “It’s stunning that Congressman Poliquin is so self-serving and politically calculating that he can’t condemn a request for a foreign dictator to interfere with a free American election.

“We need leaders with the courage to stand up for democracy and freedom here in the greatest country on Earth, especially when it’s politically inconvenient. Congressman Poliquin has proven that he lacks that courage.”

Littlefield countered that Cain had supported the recent Iran nuclear treaty, saying she supported “putting money in the hands of terrorists.”

“That is real government policy, not campaign hyperbole,” Littlefield said.


Correction: This story was revised at 10:34 a.m., July 28, 2016, to reflect that Dan Gleick is communications director for Democratic congressional candidate Emily Cain. A previous version of this story had an incorrect job title.


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