U.S. Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton on Sunday accused Republican Donald Trump of "absolute allegiance" to Russian policy goals, even as he suggested that if elected he might be willing to accept Moscow's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.
In separate interviews on news shows, the two candidates sparred over how the U.S. should deal with Russia and President Vladimir Putin.
Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state, said on "Fox News Sunday" that Trump's views about Russia raised "national security issues" and questions about his temperament as the would-be American commander in chief.
She said that "Russian intelligence services hacked into" computers at the Democratic Party national headquarters in Washington, claiming that they "arranged for a lot of those emails to be released" by WikiLeaks that showed party leaders favored her over her challenger, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, in the months-long campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
In another interview Sunday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange declined to say from whom his open source group received the hacked emails. The U.S. has not publicly accused Russia of hacking into the Democratic computers, but U.S. computer experts have said they believe that is what occurred.
WikiLeaks released more than 19,000 emails written by Democratic leaders a week ago, as Democrats headed to their national convention that acclaimed Clinton as the party's 2016 presidential nominee, the first woman to be the standard bearer of a major U.S. political party.
"Donald Trump has shown a very troubling willingness to back up Putin, to support Putin," Clinton said.
Trump, in an interview with ABC News, said he has "no relationship" with Putin and has never met with him or spoken with him by phone. But Trump, a real estate tycoon seeking his first elected office, said, "If our country got along with Russia, that would be a great thing."
He suggested that Crimeans would rather be part of Russia, a stance at odds with U.S. policy. President Barack Obama imposed economic sanctions against Moscow that are still place in the aftermath of Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian territory.
While the Democratic national convention was going on last week, Trump called for Russia to hack into Clinton's computer to find 33,000 emails she deleted after serving as the country's top diplomat from 2009 to 2013. During that time she used an unsecured private email server, rather than a more secure government email server.
A day later, Trump said he was being "sarcastic" in making the suggestion.
Clinton, who has for months acknowledged that the use of the private email server was a mistake, says she deleted the emails because they were private in nature, not related to government business. But the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation recently concluded that she was "extremely careless" in her handling of classified information in another 30,000 government-related emails, although no criminal charges were warranted.