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Story highlights

Tim Kaine compared Donald Trump's email comments to Watergate

Trump's campaign manager accused Kaine of attempting to change the topic

(CNN) —  

Hillary Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine compared Donald Trump’s seeming encouragement of Russia to hack and release Clinton’s emails to Watergate.

“A president was impeached and had to resign over an attack on the DNC during a presidential election in 1972. This is serious business,” Kaine, the Virginia senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

He was defending Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state, saying Clinton has admitted it was a mistake.

“But on the other hand we’ve got a candidate in Donald Trump who won’t release his tax returns to the public after he promised to do so. And talk about national security – he has openly encouraged Russia to engage in cyber hacking to try to find more emails or materials, and we know that this cyber attack on the DNC was likely done by Russia,” Kaine said.

“So contrast the Hillary situation, where the FBI said there’s no need for legal proceedings, with an attack that is being encouraged by Donald Trump on the DNC by Russia similar to what led to resignation of a president 30 years ago,” he said.

Kaine has often criticized Trump as close to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the campaign trail. Trump in late July appeared to encourage Russian intelligence agencies to find Hillary Clinton’s thousands of deleted emails – comments he later said were “sarcastic.”

On the same show Sunday, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said of Clinton’s campaign that “when you ask them a question about them, it takes them about 10 words to get to Donald Trump’s name.”

“Hillary Clinton is having a hard time being accepted as a truthful and honest candidate vis-a-vis the American people,” Conway said. “And I thought that Senator Kaine trying to pivot away to Donald Trump is really become a favorite parlor game these days.”