On Thursday afternoon, lawyers for Donald Trump were preparing answers to written questions from Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller, specifically dealing with collusion between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and Russia, according to inside sources who spoke to CNN.
But according to some experts on the Trump-Russia collusion probe, Mueller may ask one question that could force Trump to either admit a direct link to Russian collusion — or lie about it. That question, if Mueller has asked it, would involve the reported link between former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the late Peter Smith. Smith was a Republican political operative who made efforts to obtain supposedly stolen Hillary Clinton emails from Russian hackers, even raising more than $100,000 from GOP donors to fund his search prior to the 2016 election, as the Inquisitr reported.
Shortly before he died by suffocation in May of 2017 — just 10 days after a Wall Street Journal reporter tracked him down and interviewed him — Smith revealed that he had identified two groups of Russian computer hackers who, he believed, possessed the stolen Clinton emails, according to an ABC News report.
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Smith and Flynn had a professional relationship that dated back to 2015, and that Smith was using Flynn’s “connections” to locate and obtain the supposedly missing Clinton emails.
Last year, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about his own Russia contacts, and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation. According to The Atlantic, his more than 10 months of providing information to Mueller’s team has now ended.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Mueller has been investigating Smith’s attempts to get the alleged Clinton emails — which may no longer exist. According to law professor and Trump-Russia expert Jed Shugerman on his Twitter account, if Flynn has provided Mueller with information about his contacts with Smith, as he likely has, “that’s a big deal, and sets up Trump for trouble, whether written or oral answers.”
Flynn’s contacts with Smith could draw a direct line between the Trump campaign and Russian hackers. According to the WSJ report, Smith also told associates that he had links to WikiLeaks, the document dumping site that published thousands of emails from the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee that had been hacked and stolen by Russian intelligence agents, according to court documents filed by Miller in July and posted online by Vox.
Smith reportedly encouraged the hackers to provide WikiLeaks with the Clinton emails, but if the emails existed, nothing ever came of his efforts. Smith’s death was ruled a suicide, and according to the Chicago Tribune, a note was found near his body reading in part, “NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER.”