According to a new exclusive report in the Wall Street Journal, Peter Smith, a Republican operative, sought out illegally obtained emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server.
Smith allegedly posted on Russian hacker forums asking for any potential information. In the posts he noted that he was working with former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“He said, ‘I’m talking to Michael Flynn about this—if you find anything, can you let me know?’” Eric York, a computer-security expert from Atlanta who searched hacker forums on Smith’s behalf, told the Wall Street Journal.
Both Flynn and the White House declined to comment on the story to the Wall Street Journal, however a Trump campaign official noted that Smith did not have any involvement in the presidential campaign. The source added that had Flynn worked with Smith, it would have been in “his capacity as a private individual,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
Smith told the Wall Street Journal that he knew Flynn but did not get into detail about whether Flynn was involved in his plan. Smith confirmed that he did not work for the Trump campaign, but rather worked independently.
Smith explained that he pieced together a few technology experts, lawyers and a Russian-speaking investigator over Labor Day weekend in 2016 to attempt to acquire the emails, focusing in on the 33,000 emails that were deleted as they were deemed “personal.” Smith told the Wall Street Journal that he was able to find five separate groups claiming to have the emails in their possession.
“We knew the people who had these were probably around the Russian government,” Smith said. He added that he could not verify the veracity of the various groups claims and instead told them all to hand over the emails to Wikileaks.
Sadly, this is as far as Smith’s story is likely to go. He died at the age of 81, just 10 days after giving his interview to the Wall Street Journal.
The claims by Smith come just as Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating any potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian hackers during the 2016 presidential election, the Wall Street Journal noted. President Donald Trump has denied any involvement. Read Mic’s entire timeline of the Russian hacking investigation here.