"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said.
NBC News reporter Katy Tur surely spoke for many journalists when she followed up that surprising statement with a question: "Do you have any qualms about asking a foreign government — Russia, China, anybody — to interfere, to hack into the system of anybody's in this country?"
"That's up to the president," Trump replied.
Um, yeah. And you want to be the president, Donald Trump. The question was whether it is responsible for you — a person who wants to be president — to promote Russian hacking.
Trump didn't want to talk about that; he wanted to talk instead about how Vladimir Putin "has no respect" for the current president. Tur tried to steer him back to her original inquiry and asked again, "Does that not give you pause?"
"No, it gives me no pause," Trump said. "If they have them, they have them. We might as well — hey, you know what gives me more pause? That a person in our government, crooked Hillary Clinton — here's what gives me pause. Be quiet. I know you want to save her. That a person in our government, Katy, would delete or get rid of 33,000 emails. That gives me a big problem."
Tur later quoted an old tweet in which Trump encouraged hackers to target President Obama.
There is so much going on here. There is Trump's previously noted attempt to take the conversation in a different direction. There is his effort to bully a journalist into silence. And there is his suggestion that the journalist is in the tank for Clinton.
What a perfect encapsulation of how Trump interacts with the press. Here are his three primary tactics on display all at once. He ignores topics he doesn't like, tries to shut down reporters bold enough to push back — usually with an "excuse me"; "be quiet" was even ruder than usual — and suggests that the media is conspiring against him.
If you had paid zero attention to the presidential race before Wednesday, this single episode would tell you everything you need to know about Donald Trump's media relations.