During the run-up to the 2016 president election, an opposition researcher who has long worked for the Republican party was seemingly working to obtain emails hacked from Hillary Clinton’s private server.
From The Wall Street Journal, who broke the story:
…GOP operative, Peter W. Smith, implied he was working with retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, at the time a senior adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump.
“He said, ‘I’m talking to Michael Flynn about this—if you find anything, can you let me know?’” said Eric York, a computer-security expert from Atlanta who searched hacker forums on Mr. Smith’s behalf for people who might have access to the emails.
Emails written by Mr. Smith and one of his associates show that his small group considered Mr. Flynn and his consulting company, Flynn Intel Group, to be allies in their quest.
Smith admitted to the newspaper that he knows the disgraced former national security adviser, but disputed that he was working with Flynn on what he calls “a independent effort.”
Smith said that he was in contact with five separate hacking groups who claimed to have Clinton’s emails, including those that were deleted from her private server and not turned over to the state department. The FBI was never able to prove that server had been successfully hacked, though they believed it likely was.
Smith told the Journal that he examined “batches of emails,” but was never certain of their authenticity. In emails sent by Smith to recruit people to his operation, he offered to introduce associates to members of the Flynn Intel Group and Michael Flynn, Jr.
The response from the Trump campaign is curious and carefully phrased. They say that Smith never worked directly for the campaign, and that “if Mr. Flynn coordinated with him in any way, it would have been in his capacity as a private individual.”
Smith also said he was never officially working for the campaign, but he supported the Republican party for his entire career. In the 1990s, he helped to publicize reports from Arkansas state troopers that then-Governor Bill Clinton used them to help cheat on his wife.
Finally, Journal sources inside the investigation into Russian election interference and possible Trump collusion said that Smith’s account “is consistent” with information they’ve examined as part of their probe.
It’s unclear if investigators interviewed Smith or if he was the alleged “intermediary” between Russian hackers and Flynn. Smith died May 14, 10 days after he spoke to the Journal, at the age of 81.
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