Congress, Mueller Investigating the Curious Case of Peter Smith

News  |  Oct 18, 2017

House and Senate investigators and Special Counsel Robert Mueller reportedly are taking a closer look at the actions of recently deceased Republican donor and political operative Peter W. Smith and his relationship with former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

In May 2017, Smith shared with The Wall Street Journal how he had tried to obtain from Russian hackers thousands of emails allegedly stolen from Hillary Clinton's private email server. Ten days later, a hotel clerk found 81-year-old Smith dead of what police ruled a suicide. A note found at the scene said, "NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER." 

Smith's interview didn't run until June 29, 2017. The following day, Matt Tait, a British cybersecurity analyst, blogged about his connection to the story. Tait, who had been tweeting about the DNC hack, said Smith got in touch with him out of the blue last summer:

Yet Smith had not contacted me about the DNC hack, but rather about his conviction that Clinton’s private email server had been hacked—in his view almost certainly both by the Russian government and likely by multiple other hackers too—and his desire to ensure that the fruits of those hacks were exposed prior to the election. Over the course of a long phone call, he mentioned that he had been contacted by someone on the “Dark Web” who claimed to have a copy of emails from Secretary Clinton’s private server, and this was why he had contacted me; he wanted me to help validate whether or not the emails were genuine. 

Tait goes on to explain the details of communication with Smith, noting "it was immediately apparent that Smith was both well connected within the top echelons of the campaign and he seemed to know both Lt. Gen. Flynn and his son well. Smith routinely talked about the goings on at the top of the Trump team, offering deep insights into the bizarre world at the top of the Trump campaign."

Smith allegedly mentioned other Trump associates involved in the effort to obtain Clinton's emails, including "a number of senior campaign officials: Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Sam Clovis, Lt. Gen. Flynn and Lisa Nelson."

Business Insider says Mueller's team interviewed Tait several weeks ago. CNN reports House Intelligence Committee investigators spoke with him earlier this month. The House panel also reportedly interviewed Jonathan Safron, a law student who worked as Smith's assistant, and the Senate Intelligence Committee has reached out to Eric York, "another security expert Smith enlisted in his email hunt."


Hill Russia investigators probe GOP operative who sought Clinton emails (CNN)

Mueller has interviewed the cybersecurity expert who described being 'recruited to collude with the Russians' (Business Insider)

The Time I Got Recruited to Collude with the Russians (Lawfare)