The left-leaning New York Times editorial board said in a Thursday op-ed that Donald Trump's comments about Russia helping to find Hillary Clinton's deleted emails are not treason, going against the arguments of several Democrats.

"It is not treason," the paper said. "It is constitutionally protected free speech."

Still, the Times said Trump's remarks were unbecoming of a presidential candidate.

Trump "has endorsed waterboarding, even though it is illegal; he has argued for retaliating against political enemies and journalists; and he has proposed excluding people from America based on their religion," said the Times. "It grows ever harder to imagine that he could honor the high office to which he aspires."

On Wednesday, Trump asked Russia to help return any of the Clinton emails it might have by now. While he didn't invite Russia to engage in new hacking activities against the U.S., he said he imagined that Russia probably already has the emails.

The Republican nominee has since said he was being sarcastic, but not before critics in the media suggested he was guilty of treason for inviting a foreign entity to intervene in U.S. government affairs.