Peter Smith, a longtime Republican opposition researcher, raised at least $100,000 just a month before the 2016 presidential election in an effort to obtain what he believed were more than 30,000 emails from Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton that had been hacked and stolen by Russian operatives, according to a Sunday Wall Street Journal exposé.
Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now “actively prob[ing]” Smith’s attempts to collaborate with Russia in obtaining the purportedly missing Clinton emails, WSJ reporter Dustn Volz states on his Twitter account.
The efforts made by Smith, 81, were uncovered in early 2017 by a WSJ reporter who tracked Smith down and interviewed him about his search for the supposed Clinton emails. Smith told the Journal that he was working for retired General Michael Flynn, who was then a top adviser to the Donald Trump campaign and later became Trump’s national security adviser — only to be forced out over his own Russia ties in February of 2017.
Just ten days after speaking to the WSJ reporter, Smith was found dead in a Minnesota hotel room, apparently suffocated with a plastic bag pulled over his head, according to The Chicago Tribune. His death was ruled a suicide, after police found a note allegedly written by Smith which said, in all capital letters, “NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER.”
The alleged 33,000 Clinton emails were mentioned frequently by Trump on the campaign trail. On July 27, 2016 — as Inquisitr reported — Trump called on Russia to turn over the emails, saying, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Just hours after Trump issued that plea, Russian hackers responded by “for the first time” attempting to break into an email server used by Clinton, according to court documents submitted by Mueller in July of this year and posted online by CNN.
Smith used dummy Gmail accounts to connect with potential donors to his email hunt, signing his emails “Robert Tyler,” or simply “ROB,” the Journal reported. One such email from October 11, 2016, claimed that the money would go to “the Washington Scholarship Fund for the Russian students.”
The deleted Clinton emails have never been found, and may no longer exist. As reported by PolitiFact, a Clinton employee deleted approximately 33,000 emails in March of 2015. Clinton said that the emails were personal in nature, and that she was not involved in deleting them. An FBI investigation found “no evidence that any of the additional work-related emails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them.”