Mystery Surrounding Dead, Rich GOP Operative and Stolen E-mails Deepens
If you are familiar with the full story of Russian agents having hacked Democratic e-mails in 2016, you may be familiar with the name Peter W. Smith. If not,
Before the 2016 presidential election, a longtime Republican opposition researcher mounted an independent campaign to obtain emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton’s private server, likely by Russian hackers.
In conversations with members of his circle and with others he tried to recruit to help him, the 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. …
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Smith said he knew Mr. Flynn, but he never stated that Mr. Flynn was involved.
Mr. Flynn didn’t respond to requests for comment.
A Trump campaign official said that Mr. Smith didn’t work 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. The White House declined to comment. …
Smith was also the bagman who financed the bogus “Troopergate” scandal.
Smith died on May 14 of last year, days after talking to The Wall Street Journal. He was found in a Minnesota hotel room with an apparent suicide note, but there is this troubling detail:
Retired Wall Street financier Charles Ortel said he spoke with Mr. Smith on the phone in the hours before his death about a new project to brief the Obama Foundation and warn its leaders against the mistakes they believed were made by the Clinton Foundation. According to Mr. Ortel, Mr. Smith sounded excited, and he began brainstorming who to contact and how to proceed.
This morning, The Wall Street Journal added a new piece to the puzzle surrounding money for stolen e-mails:
[Smith] raised at least $100,000 from donors as part of an effort to obtain what he believed to be emails stolen from Hillary Clinton, activities that remain of intense interest to federal investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller’s office and on Capitol Hill.
[He] sought and collected the funds from at least four wealthy donors as part of the plan to obtain Mrs. Clinton’s stolen emails from hackers just weeks before election day in 2016, according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Smith often communicated with associates using a Gmail account under the name “Robert Tyler” that both he and several others had access to, according to emails and a person familiar with the matter. He sometimes asked associates to communicate with him by writing a note and saving it the draft folder of the account, according to correspondence reviewed by the Journal.
He also had one phone number that he used for sensitive matters and a commercially available encrypted email account. Hard drives that Mr. Smith’s estate turned over to federal investigators were also encrypted, according to people familiar with the matter.
According to an email in the “Robert Tyler” account reviewed by the Journal, Mr. Smith obtained $100,000 from at least four financiers as well as a $50,000 contribution from Mr. Smith himself. People familiar with Mr. Smith’s financial transactions confirm there were donations.
The email, dated Oct. 11, 2016, in the “Robert Tyler” account, included the subject line “Wire Instructions—Clinton Email Reconnaissance Initiative” and was addressed to Mr. Smith. The writer, who identified himself as “ROB, ” said: “This $100k total with the $50k received from you will allow us to fund the Washington Scholarship Fund for the Russian students for the promised $150K.”
A “Washington Scholarship Fund” for “Russian students! How generous! How magnanimous!
“The students are very pleased with the email releases they have seen, and are thrilled with their educational advancement opportunities,” the email read. Because multiple people had access to the “Robert Tyler” email account, it couldn’t be determined who sent the email to Mr. Smith.
The email about obtaining the pledges came just days after WikiLeaks and the website DCLeaks began releasing emails damaging to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and four days after the U.S. government publicly warned that Russia was attempting to interfere in the U.S. election through the hacking and release of stolen emails and doing so at the direction of the Kremlin’s “senior-most officials.” Russia denies interfering in the election.
A millionaire reactionary playing footsie with the Russians who bragged to The Wall Street Journal about his dirty tricks sounds like the very kind of “loose cannon” that Putin and his cronies would want silenced. ‘Nuff said…